Benfica to stage youth camp in Jamaica

PORTUGUESE football club SL Benfica will send coaches to the island next month to conduct a six-day training camp as part of its International Schools Programme.

The camp, which will be held at Sabina Park in Kingston from July 3-8, will feature aspiring players from ages six to 17 and will consist of two sessions of 50 kids daily for the first five days, with the best players selected for two games on day six.

The project was organised in part by Sports Innovators Group (SIG), which signed a partnership with the reigning Portuguese champions.

SL Benfica has held football camps in various countries over the years, with the most recent being staged in Barbados in May. That camp was deemed a success as several youngsters were seen as prospects who could travel to Portugal for closer analysis by the club's coaches.

This is the first camp managed by SIG, which last year executed the first local basketball event (Jamaica Basketball Showcase) since the COVID-19 pandemic. Organisers say this initiative will introduce a new level of football experience aimed at developing independence while improving playing and leadership skills. It is also seen as paramount to building a relationship with one of the world's best academies, which will lead to more exposure for Jamaican young talents and coaches.

"The main goal is always to seek talent," Benfica International Schools Programme Director David Gomez said. "In Portugal we know that there are not going to be so many kids in the future so we need to prepare that strategy to find the best talent as soon as possible."

The camp will also give 10 Jamaican coaches an opportunity to take part in the delivery of the training. Local coaches will be given the chance to see the methodology and philosophy that led to SL Benfica being voted the world's best academy by Globe Soccer in 2019 and the 2021 Football Talent Scout Platform's Best Academy of the Decade.

SIG says it is confident that Benfica will decide to make the camp an annual event, based on what it describes as an abundance of talent it will discover in Jamaica.

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