ESPN commentator and former Reggae boy Robbie Earle took the field at midday Tuesday to deliver a world-class training session to participants from the 26 teams in the Flow Champions Cup.
He was joined by former national goalkeeper Aaron Lawrence and Andre Virtue to sharpen the skills of coaches, forwards and goalkeepers preparing for the upcoming premier national knockout competition.
Assistant head coach for Waterhouse Football Club, Junior Francis, agreed that the master class came at the right time. "It is always good to have a football clinic right before the season so that you can impart the knowledge to the rest of players on the team, so as to improve all their skill set. Scoring is always the most important thing in football and this is an area that we are lacking in.
"Today (Tuesday) was all about improving technique, so by incorporating both coaches and players in the same training session you are able to single out what needs to be done to increase the goals being scored in the competition," said Francis.
As for what you can expect from Waterhouse FC in the Flow Champions Cup, Francis says that he intends to increase the number of goals this season. "Last year, Waterhouse scored 22 goals in the National Premier League; in this competition, expect much more."
Earle also shared the sentiments of the Waterhouse coach, saying that he was intent on working on the skills of strikers in the one-day session. "This master class model is definitely another big step towards supporting the growth and development of local football players and by extension the sport. Goalscoring is an area that needs attention, and so I was happy that I was able to work with the coaches and strikers on improving this skill," said Earle.
The scorer of Jamaica's first World Cup Finals goal in France in 1998, Earle also spoke to the continuity of the football master class programme, adding that an email account was setup: email@example.com, to continue the conversation with coaches and players after the clinic.
As for Lawrence, the Flow/ESPN initiative is an important step in the right direction for football in Jamaica. "I was pleased to be a part of this programme today, and I could not be happier with the response from the players and coaches.
"We focused on basic techniques, agility training and how to position in the goal. The goalkeepers were very impressive and have said that they intend to continue practising what they learnt in this session. I know that they are all looking forward to the next master class."
The Flow Champions Cup will kick off on September 11, with the first match being played at the Frome Complex in Westmoreland between Savannah FC and Holland United FC. Flow announced on Tuesday that teams will be vying for an increased cash prize of $1 million.
Nicole Campbell, Flow's corporate social responsibility specialist, was also pleased with how the master class turned out. "Today we achieved full participation from the 26 teams in the competition. After speaking with the participants, it was clear that everyone walked away with a better understanding of the areas that needed improvement and, more importantly, how they were going to tackle it. I know many of the players are keen on demonstrating what they've learnt today in the upcoming matches of the Flow Champions Cup. All I can say is that this master class just up the ante, and it is going to be a very exciting competition," she said.
Campbell also spoke to an expanded programme going forward. "Today demonstrated Flow and ESPN's continued commitment to sports development in Jamaica. As a result of the success achieved here today, we will definitely be looking at ways in which we can reach more players through this football programme.