Young champs

Young champs

Nestle honours Milo Champions Cup winners Jamaica

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

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The Under-12 football team from Jamaica which recently won the Milo Champions Cup in Barcelona, Spain, was serenaded at a reception hosted by Nestle at its headquarters on Thursday.

The eight-member team, coached by Sydney McFarlane and captained by Keneil Segree, beat Trinidad and Tobago on penalties in the final, after the game was locked at 1-1 at the end of 16 minutes of normal time.

Jamelia Thomas, one of two girls on the team, scored the Jamaicans' goal in that encounter.

It was a satisfying victory for the Jamaicans, overcoming their Caribbean rivals, but the overall exposure at the 10-team tournament was immense, according to all concerned.

Thomas praised the Trinidad and Tobago team for having “a lot of great players”, while adding that travelling to and around the city of Barcelona was “a great experience”.

Goalkeeper Justin Murray, outstanding throughout the tournament and impressive in the shoot-out, was nominated best goalkeeper in the competition, while Denzel McKenzie tallied 15 goals for the Jamaican team.

Other members of the team were Alana Pitknight, Orane Watson, Daniel Clarke and Lejhaun Bailey. The team to Barcelona was accompanied by Chevanne Lawrence, Milo's trade marketing manager for cocomalt beverages; Rhona Morgan, Milo's legal and compliance manager; and Tiffany Davidson, Milo's senior trade marketing manager.

McFarlane, an experienced coach, said selecting players from mini tournaments held in four locations across Jamaica was a hard task, but he was pleased with how the team executed in Barcelona.

“I think selection was one of the biggest challenges, but in the end we were able to narrow it down to the group that we got. We implemented a style of play and got them to understand how we wanted them to do things.

“Experience was the greatest thing, and we went there and did our best and we came back victorious. It was challenging, it was a learning process, but as the competition went on they grasped things,” he said.

Daniel Caron, country manager for Nestle Jamaica, said the partnership with Spanish football giants Barcelona is at the core of the company's values and objectives.

“This all started off with giving experience to children in Jamaica who would not normally have this kind of experience to go and participate in a worldwide championship. They experienced cultures, experiencing new relationships, [and] experiencing the Camp Nou [Barcelona's home stadium].

“What we didn't expect was to come home world champions — that was like an added bonus. no one thought we would, and I don't think we went with that premise,” he said.

He estimated this year's overall expense, including selecting and preparing players and covering travel and accommodation for the Jamaican team, at US$250,000. However, he insisted the partnership has been worthwhile, and one he hopes will be extended after next year's end of a four-year deal.

“We're doing the right things and we're definitely getting the investment back. I don't foresee that we will stop doing this, whether it be this or something else. It's absolutely money well spent,” Caron said.

“It [the Milo investment] ties into the brand essence of what we are doing. It's about nourishing talent, nourishing aspirational youth, and that's what Milo is all about…nourishing future champions. We really want to promote youth sports and nutrition engagement on a worldwide basis,” he explained.

Lawrence noted that the event in Barcelona was tweaked after previously being staged purely as a training experience under the watchful eyes of Barcelona coaches.

“We did it for the first two years as basically a training camp. This year they decided to change up the format to do a Champions Cup, so this is Milo's mini World Cup. We [the Jamaica team] competed against nine other countries and the Jamaica team came out on top; we won both the Champions Cup and the League Cup.

“I just want to give a big shout out to Danbri Consulting because without them the training camps we did across the island wouldn't have been possible because they arranged things with the FAs [local football associations],” he explained.

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