MONTEGO BAY, St James - Just over 100 young football players attended the inaugural day-long football clinic — valued at over US$5,000 — hosted by Bootbag and Football For The World at Cornwall College in Montego Bay last Saturday.
The children, most of them under 12 years old, were taken through a series of drills and participated in mini-games.
They were also presented with football gear including boots and socks.
Shane Malcolm, the main person behind the project, who was born in Montego Bay, but migrated at a young age in 2000, described the venture as a success.
“This is a big success...it is COVID times as well and kids have not had the access to football and just being able to gather in small groups and play football while having a day out is a success,” he told the Jamaica Observer West.
“It's a day out… the kids who are having fun and we just look at the smiles on their faces and that is how we measure success.”
The event has been held in Kingston for four years before finally coming to Montego Bay.
“I would say we are off to a good start [in Montego Bay], we have around 100 kids, we have donated over 270 pairs of boots and socks, so yes it is off to a good start,” Malcolm stressed.
Saturday's staging he said “costs around US$5,000-plus for today alone but we want to make an impact on the kids and give them the tools they need to work with.”
The companies — Bootbag and Football For The World — are based in Miami, USA.
“What we do is we collect new and lightly used football equipment and redistribute them to over 25 different countries and this is one of the spots that we looked at as a potential partnership,” Malcolm explained.
He noted that Cornwall College's director of sports, Warren Bloise, was instrumental in the staging of the clinic in the resort city.
“Warren told us this was a place that could definitely benefit from having something like this and we are here to form relationships and give back because that is essentially what we do,” said Malcolm, stressing that the organisers wanted to start at the grass roots level.
“The target group for us is that we look at kids 12 years and under, just getting introduced to the game in a safe environment, equipping them to make sure they have access as well as getting girls out playing as well. We saw in the last Fifa Women's World Cup Jamaica had a team there and it shows the women can play at a high level and the sport is not just for boys,” Malcolm argued.
Thirteen-year-old Sumari Cunningham said while he had already passed the basic level of the sport, he enjoyed himself at the clinic.
“It is a good thing as it helps children to get into the game and they have boots to play in which is a good thing,” he told the Observer West.
Kadian Fullwood of Mount Salem, who said it was her 10- year-old son who told her about the event, also expressed appreciation for the initiative.
“It's nice to know that people out there still care and take time out for the children, they donated football boots and other gear and are teaching them how to play the game properly and that is a good thing,” said Fullwood.