Digicel, Chelsea FC launch youth initiative

BY HOWARD WALKER Observer senior reporter

Sunday, July 29, 2012    

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MIAMI, Florida — Telecoms giant Digicel pulled off the football signing of the season to date, tying down European champions Chelsea FC of England to a three-year deal to provide their coaching expertise to the Digicel Kick-Start Clinic on Friday.

The Kick-Start Clinic, which is in its fifth year, provides youngsters with the opportunity to train with an English club, more recently, Sunderland, at the end of a talent search across the CONCACAF region.

It has, therefore, pulled off a tremendous deal with one of the richest and most powerful clubs in the world.

Ken Mason, Digicel's group business development director, was extremely happy to have tied up the deal with Chelsea, who are also this year's English FA Cup champions.

"We are hugely excited about this agreement for a number of reasons because we are partnering with the best team in Europe and because of the potential positive impact on the Digicel Kick-Start programme," noted Mason.

"What a wonderful convergence of number ones. Digicel is number one in the Caribbean and Central America and Chelsea number one in the world today," he pointed out.

"Now in its fifth year, the Digicel Clinic provides thousands of youngsters with the opportunity to... impress the Premier League coaches, and this is stuff dreams are made of," Mason added.

Meanwhile Chelsea, on a four-match pre-season tour of North America, were on hand to take the youngsters through their drills.

Former England international left-back Graeme Le Saux was among the cadre of coaches, and he spoke on behalf of the club.

"Our principles are very much about not just only the elite, but developing grassroot talent and developing our grassroot base and give people an experience to engage in football.

"We ran a programme across America with some clubs and just like our tour says, 'We are here to play and here to stay'," he pointed out.

"Working with you in the Caribbean is very nice for me because I grew up on a very small island of only 80,000 people and that is something I have a lot of respect for in communication with people around the world," said Le Saux.

"It is an important environment for people to develop and we hope we can help and make this a really successful partnership... I am certainly looking forward to it," said Le Saux.



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