IT IS NOW OFFICIAL.
Coaches from top Italian Serie A football club, AC Milan will be coming to Barbados later this year to conduct a coaching camp.
And teenage footballers from Pro Shottas and other academies and clubs now have 8 000 reasons to gear up for the 2011 AC Milan Junior Camp in Barbados.
That’s because American investment company and clothing line 8000 Inc., through its Barbados’ representative Jonathan Bryant, has come on board as the major sponsor of the camp, scheduled for the National Stadium from October 15 to 23.
Pro Shottas’ head coach Greg Castagne said confirmation of the camp was only made by the AC Milan Americas Group on Monday and he thanked 8000 Inc. for making it possible.
“I am just happy to inform the public of Barbados that AC Milan, which is [a] champion Serie A club and has many supporters in Barbados, has joined with Pro Shottas, and we have finalised the dates for the camp this year which will be held in Barbados,” he told reporters at yesterday’s media briefing at South Beach Hotel.
“The camp will be run by AC Milan coaches, along with assistant coaches provided by Pro Shottas and we are happy to have the support of 8000 Inc., through the CEO, Jonathan Bryant, who has made this possible. It is a very costly venture,” he said without disclosing the sponsorship figure.
Castagne noted that such AC Milan Junior camps were official scouting activities, hosted by at least two AC Milan-certified coaches.
He added that he had been reliably informed that a former great AC Milan player would also be coming for “coaching, playing and autograph” sessions.
Castagne also said he was happy that the Barbados Football Association (BFA) was supporting the venture and explained that while most of the participants in the camp would be Pro Shottas footballers, there would be a selection process for other local footballers between 12 and 17 years old, during the annual Easter and Summer camps.
“It took us a very long time to finalize it because there were a lot of details that had to be ironed out but it is a tremendous opportunity for the youths and we do hope that this would become an annual venture,” Castagne said.
“For exceptional players, AC Milan, if they are happy with the skill level, will provide coaching at the club in Italy for a two-week period,” he said.
Each participant would receive an official AC Milan Junior Camp adidas kit and a Milan Jr. camp diploma at the end of the camp, whose curriculum has been specially designed for each age group by AC Milan’s laboratory and doctor.
Happy to assist
The Barbadian-based Bryant, whose brother Neil Bryant was on the first team roster of Manchester City as a goalkeeper, said he was happy to assist football after their involvement with the Carlton Club in cricket and the Barbados Golf Association.
“It was a little bit sad that because of my footballing history that I was not involved in football and Greg has given me the opportunity to do that,” he said.
“The only thing stopping the event taking place was funding and when Greg asked the question I was absolutely delighted,” Bryant said.
“The fact that two or three of the attendees can actually go to Milan and watch a Champions League game, didn’t have an impact or influence, especially since the parents will have to go as well,” he said.
He said that from a promotional perspective, any company would wish to be associated with such a great club as AC Milan.
“It is one of the biggest sporting clubs in the world, you will be mad to turn it down and it’s great to allow or to give the sporting talent in Barbados the chance to meet these coaches.
“Even if nothing comes from it from their perspective, it would be something that they will remember,” Bryant said.
“It’s a benchmark but I absolutely have no doubt that more than two players would be on the AC Milan radar after this.
“And it is giving something back, and with the support of the Barbados Football Association, I think this could be a huge initiative.
“I think it will get a lot of interest and other islands are going to be jealous,” he said.