Magnificent seven head off for Stoke City experience

Senior staff reporter

Sunday, March 24, 2019

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Seven extremely happy players, the “crème de la crème” of Jamaica's schoolboy football, left the island on Friday en route to Stoke City in England, as part of the Digicel's Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Association's #ISSArealGoal campaign.

Lamar Walker of all-island champions Clarendon College; Trayvonne Reid of Manning Cup champions Kingston College; Jamaica College's Norman Campbell; the St George's College pair of Chantamoi Taylor and Emelio Rosseau; Giovanni Laing of Camperdown; and Shevan McDonald of Cornwall College where all selected for their outstanding displays throughout the season.

They will spend a week training with Stoke City's academy, courtesy of Digicel ambassador Ricardo Fuller, who played for Stoke City between 2006 and 2012 and scored 43 goals in 182 appearances.

Digicel CEO, Justin Morin said his company was happy it was able to land a deal with Stoke City to enable the players to experience a professional set-up.

“There needs to be something that the boys can aspire to, where really just the top the crème de la crème can get this opportunity; it's not for everybody,” Morin told the Jamaica Observer.

“We are sending seven guys and they are all excited, and we are really glad we were able to pull this off. It will be an entire experience. They are going to go there and meet coaches, meet players, and go through full training regimen.

“They will be put up at the academy, fed three meals a day.they will also be able to go and watch a football match during that time and tour facilities, and potentially go on a road trip to Manchester-and we are really happy to do this for them,” he explained.

Morin continued: “We have such talented players here and we are really happy to give them that exposure to what's it's like to play overseas so they can experience that and bring those stories back here and encourage players back here to do their best, study in school and get good grades because along with the talent, you need to have the discipline and the brain.”

Digicel's regional communications manager, Elon Parkinson will accompany the players on their trip from Montego Bay to Stoke City — the second-oldest professional football club in the world, formed in 1893 after Notts County.

The players, all except Shevon McDonald, were at the Digicel headquarters in downtown Kingston beaming from ear to ear before leaving for Montego Bay to catch their flight.

Walker, who starred for Clarendon College and is making a name for himself at Portmore United in the Red Stripe Premier League (RSPL), is seen as arguably the best young player in the country.

“This trip means a lot to me because it is a big opportunity for me to further my career. I feel so happy right now,” said the ace midfielder who is a big fan of Chelsea.

“It will be my first time in England and first time going to Stoke City... I have to just put out my all and only my best is good enough,” he added.

The wily Reid, who plays for Tivoli Gardens in the RSPL and was one of KC's goalscorers in the Manning Cup final, says he will relish the opportunity.

“This is a great opportunity for me that Digicel picked me to go to England. I am very thankful and will make much use of it,” said Reid.

“I feel good winning the Manning Cup trophy, but I won't be playing anymore, but I am very thankful being a part of the championship team. Hopefully, someone can see me and pick me; that's my dream,” said Reid.

JC's talisman Norman Campbell, a very skilful player, was delighted at the prospects. “I am grateful for this trip; We just have to do what we have to do. We know already that we can play so we just have to show them, and hopefully we can get signed by a professional club,” said Campbell, who is hoping to visit his favourite team Manchester United.


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