Three young footballers heading to Barbados through Digicel Kick Start Clinic
Jamaica has talent, skill, and a phenomenal people - and the world knows it. This is what made it easy for youth coaches from Barclays Premier League giant Chelsea FC to come to Jamaica yet again, to facilitate clinics with the best young footballers from high schools and clubs across Jamaica.
This initiative was in alignment with the Digicel Kick Start Clinic, now in its eighth year of existence. Last Wednesday to Friday, telecommunications provider Digicel collaborated for the second successive year with the youth coaches from Chelsea to host a three-day clinic in Jamaica, at the University of the West Indies JSF Training Centre. The clinic saw 30 boys participating in two training sessions over two days, after which three were selected based on the criteria of; who worked the hardest, showed good technical skills and versatility. and will represent Jamaica at the Digicel Academy in Barbados come October. The standouts were 14-year-old Jeremy Verley (midfielder), 16-year-old Alex Marshall (midfield/forward) from St Georges College and Fabian Grant (central defender) of Harbour View FC. Verley told teenAGE that he knew he had done his best, and his best was evidently good enough as he was among the winners.
What is new? This year the U-15 girls football team culminated the three-day clinic with extensive training from the Chelsea coaches. David Monk, senior international football development officer of the Chelsea FC Foundation emphasised the foundation's promise on delivering help to athletes of both genders: "The workshop will give an insight into our philosophy of working with grassroots players and engaging all genders and abilities in football... We believe, obviously, that female athletes deserve equal opportunities." He also added that the Digicel Kick Start programme continues to provide a solid foundation for players who want to launch into a career of football. Monk is joined in Jamaica by coaches Andrew Ottley and Kobina Elliot.
Cadine Graham of Excelsior High won the MVP award for the entire region last year, and subsequently won a full-scholarship to attend the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill campus in a couple years. Cadine told the teenAGE Observer that being a part of Digicel's Kick Start Clinic has been a life-changing experience. "There were 39 of us, and I was chosen to be the MVP for the entire clinic. That is a great achievement for me."
The youngster, labelled as "a young Nigel Reo-Coker" by Monk, added that the most important factor for him throughout the experience was being focused, and had high hopes for the players in this year's clinic. "I just kept my focus right through and worked hard... It will help them to show their talents to these coaches so they can one day be like me in the future," Graham said.
Senior sponsorship manager at Digicel Jamaica, Tahnida Nunes, told the teenAGE Observer how committed her company is to developing the young sportsmen and women of Jamaica. "We have a solid football programme, we have a solid cricket programme and we have a solid athletic programme. For football in particular, we start at the grassroots level, as young as six years old... What we want is literally for these programmes to be the feeder programmes for the national, regional and international programmes"
After a week filled with activities -- none more hectic than the training sessions -- Digicel treated the winning boys, their families and the Chelsea coaches to an adventurous day at the Mystic Mountain in Ocho Rios. teenAGE was in on the excitement and we surely had fun. Look out for a clinic for coaches.
-- Alexei DaCosta, Chavon Panton