'Stew Peas' gives back to Ardenne
NATIONAL player and Bristol City defender Damion 'Stew Peas' Stewart yesterday presented a Western Sports gift certificate valued at $200,000 to Reverend Claude Ellis, acting principal of Ardenne High School.
The donation was to help facilitate the Ardenne's Manning Cup team in its preparation for the schoolboy football competition later this year.
The 31-year-old Stewart, a past student and Manning Cup player at Ardenne, told the Jamaica Observer after making the presentation and just hours ahead of his departure for England where he is scheduled to begin his pre-season training at Championship outfit Bristol City that as a professional footballer, he thought it was his duty to give back to his alma marter.
"I'm a past student of Ardenne High School and I have to remember where I'm coming from, so I'm doing this in the hope that it may inspire some of these footballers here to strive to make football a professional career, like I have.
"I know it will not be easy, and everyone will not make it, so at the same time I would urge them to continue to pay keen attention to their academics, just in case they don't make the transition to the professional leagues," he said.
Stewart attended Ardenne between 1991 and 1997 and played on the Manning Cup team from 1995 to 1997.
He also turned out for local outfit Harbour View FC upon leaving school, helping the Stars of the East to the National Premier League title in 2000 and the Caribbea Football Union (CFU) Club Championship four years later.
Stewart joined Bradford in England in 2005, but his quality quickly saw Queen's Park Rangers making a successful six-figure transfer bid.
AFter a successful stint, he joined Bristol on a three-year contract in July 2010, but went on loan until the end of the season in January.
Stewart, who turns 32 next month, played for the Jamaica U-20 and Ur-23 youth teams. He made his senior debut in 1999 against Ghana and played in the 2003, 2005 and 2009 CONCACAF Gold Cup tournaments and numerous World Cup qualification matches since.
Rev Ellis was thankful for the donation.
"We're humbled by the gesture and appreciate that past students are willing to contribute to their alma mater. This contribution will go a far way in assisting us in our Manning Cup programme."