THE support given to the Maverley-Hughenden Football Club from the Raheem Sterling Foundation and New Balance International has been declared a blessing from the heavens by Craig White, a prominent coach at the club.
The foundation made a donation of footwear, footballs, and other gear at the club's base in Maverley last Thursday.
"This is a God blessing — no more needs to be said on that," White, popularly called Warlord during his days as a hard-nosed central defender, said after the ceremonial handover.
The support for the Maverley-Hughenden FC, he said, would benefit the communities and those surrounding as a collective.
"It's a joy, and we know what it does for the community, especially for kids. And I can tell you, it does a lot for grown men too to see the football equipment coming in. Throughout the club, from top to bottom, it is being felt," said White, who is mostly responsible for coaching players 17 years and under.
"This [the donation] teaches camaraderie, it teaches caring and appreciation. A lot of these kids in the inner city, they want to come out but their main complaint is they have no footwear. This makes a difference within the community because some of these parents want to share the child's dream but sometimes are just not able to get the equipment they need," White, also nicknamed Jingo, told the Jamaica Observer.
The wide belief is that football and other sports provide alternatives for some youth, particularly those living in inner-city communities, who would otherwise be exposed to criminal activities.
Jamaican-born England footballer Raheem Sterling grew up in Maverley before moving to London as a child. He's relatively popular on the social scene in Jamaica and is widely regarded as an avid supporter of youth development in Maverley and wider Jamaica.
Sterling, among the most prominent footballers globally, is a brand ambassador for New Balance, one of the world's major sports footwear and apparel manufacturers.
Last week's donation is said to value just over £21,000.
Tori Haber, a member of the Raheem Sterling Foundation, said one of the major targets of the partnership is community and youth development.
"It is a blessing and we feel so grateful to be able to contribute to where Raheem Sterling came from. These are his roots and and we are so happy that we can come back to give back because it will help the long-term development of the community, the kids, and for the senior team," she said.
Patrick Watson, general secretary of Maverley-Hughenden FC, said the contribution will go "a far way" in helping the Kingston and St Andrew-based club compete in tournaments at the senior and youth levels.
"What we got was enough to suit out the senior men's team and under-13 and under-15 teams. We got footwear and jerseys and we got footballs — and those go a far way," he told the Observer.
"We will be balancing the football and balancing the community the New Balance way once the sponsorship is there," Watson quipped.
— Sanjay Myers