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Academy’s MLS hope

Justin Marville

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First the prose. Now the pros.
United States-based club Houston Dynamo is set to become the first Major League Soccer setup to scout players in Barbados during a camp next month as part of the Barbados Soccer Academy’s [BSA] new focus on creating professional opportunities and not just scholarships for local footballers.
BSA director Jabez “Jack” Bovell revealed the academy’s latest drive while disclosing details of the camp during a Press launch at sponsors Coconut Court Beach Hotel.
“Some of our players are not academic,” explained the BSA’s Under-17 manager Ricardo Taylor.
“We have had 18 scholarships over the last five or so years but now there are many of our players who are excellent players and now they can have the opportunity to become professionals.”
Since its inception six years ago, the BSA has been at the forefront of acquiring scholarship opportunities for its junior players by exposing them to colleges via overseas trips to the United States.
Most recently, eight of the club’s leading Under-18 players were targeted by NCAA Division I and II schools following last December’s historic trip to Chelsea’s Disney Soccer Showcase in Orlando, Florida.
But Bovell believes Barbados’ best juniors are talented enough to warrant more than scholarship offers and he sees this camp as just the start of opening up a new market for local footballers.
“It is all about providing opportunities and providing disposable income for our players,” said Bovell.
“[So now] we are focusing on Major League clubs in the United States and also on the [British] market.”
According to Taylor, the camp is slated to run from October 17 to 21 at the University of the West Indies’ Paradise Park and will be open to around 200 players between the ages of 16 and 21.
The Dynamo coaches will then select a handful of the camp’s better players to undergo a training stint with Houston’s youth development academy.
“This camp is just not one of those camps where coaches come every year and no player is taken overseas,” said Bovell.
“Hopefully, by the grace of God, these players will someday go into their Major League senior team and become professional players and instant millionaires.”
The camp will be the second such staged by a professional football team this year, after perennial Italian champs AC Milan announced plans to set up an academy in Barbados.