Digicel Kickstart pre-clinic unearths 30 young stars
Recently over 80 gifted youngsters turned up at the Jamaica Football Federation Training Facility to showcase their football skills for the Digicel Kickstart Clinic pre-selection. The clinic was held to select 30 youngsters, 13-16, who will be invited to a two-day training camp to train with coaches from the international football club, Chelsea FC, later this month.
The pre-clinic saw the youths taken through a number of drills to test their readiness and technical aptitude for the next level. This was conducted under the watchful eyes of lead coach for the pre-clinic, Andre Virtue of Ballaz International, as well as Gregory Simmonds and Tyrone Marshall, both former Reggae Boyz and MLS players, and other support coaches.
The morning session began with warm-up activities which included agility, coordination and ball mastery drills.
Always taking a holistic approach to the development of young talent, Digicel ensured that the day's activities also included a classroom session where Virtue, Marshall and Simmonds shared their experiences as professional footballers. Simmonds stressed the following message: "You have to want it. Football is not just about talent. It is also about passion, and it is this passion that will drive you to be the best on and off the field. It is this passion that will ensure that you are always on time for your engagements, and mould you into a true professional." Mark Martin, sponsorship executive at Digicel, emphasised his company's commitment to the youngsters' passion, saying, "Digicel is here to support your development once you show the passion. We see that you are talented and so we are happy to be involved in those programmes that will hone your ability, but the rest is up to you to be successful."
Following the motivational talks, it was back on the field for the second half of the day where the boys got into another quick warm-up and straight into the '11 vs 11' games.
Marshall said, "The games will help us to see how well the boys think on and off the ball and also how they function as a part of a team. It will also help us to see how well they have put into practice the instructions given to them and also what they learned in the morning session."
At the end of the day, 30 eager boys were chosen to participate in the two-day training camp with the coaches from Chelsea FC; from this camp three boys will be selected to represent Jamaica at the Digicel Kickstart Academy in Barbados later this year.
Kavon Francis of Excelsior High School was one of the boys chosen. He has participated in the clinic before and is looking forward to being amongst the top three boys. "I am glad I was given a chance again this year. I am planning to really push myself further and practise even harder because this is an opportunity of a lifetime.
"I am going to training in the early mornings before I go to school. I want to be able to do as well as my schoolmate Cadine Graham, who was MVP for the academy last year."
Several of Jamaica's top coaches were also present to see what the boys were made of -- Neville Bell, coach of St George's College, Vin Blaine and Aaron Lawrence, director of football and coach of Under-15, respectively. Blaine said, that "this programme could not have come at a better time when we are currently rebuilding the Jamaican football programme. Taking these youngsters out of their community and putting them with other talented youngsters will push them to try harder, unearth that competitive gene, thus highlighting their talent and passion for the game." Both Marshall and Simmonds were pleased with the programme, adding: "We are happy that Digicel has a programme like this. The future of Jamaica's football industry lies in the strength of our grassroots programme, so it is definitely a step in the right direction."