Three Bajans for regional football camp
They are the best the Caribbean has to offer on the football field.
And this weekend, all of Barbados will get to see those 39 most talented players under the age of 17, thanks to the Digicel Chelsea Football Academy.
From Trinidad and Tobago in the south, to Panama in the middle, up north to Jamaica and Bermuda, and easterly to Barbados, these young men have survived months of rigorous coaching, the results of which will be showcased at Kensington Oval when they are divided into three teams, and join Barbados’ Under-17 national team in a special exhibition tournament.
They all came together Monday under the watchful eye of coaches from the English Premier League club’s international department.
And three are from right here in Barbados.
Renaldo Bailey, the talented son of former national goalkeeper Horace Stoute and national netballer Christine Bailey, was chosen along with Shaquille Beckles and Carl Hinkson, all members of the national team.
Four players each were chosen from Haiti, Trinidad, and Grenada, while Panama, Jamaica, Suriname, Antigua and Barbuda, Bermuda, Barbados and St Vincent and the Grenadines all provided three players.
When the academy was launched at the Stephen Alleyne Centre at Kensington Oval on Monday, the players were welcomed by Minister of Sport Stephen Lashley, president of the Barbados Football Association, Randy Harris, and officials from the event’s sponsor Digicel.
Lashley noted that his ministry was especially interested in coaching football at the grass roots community level in Barbados, since it could assist in dampening instances of conflict and violence as people are called upon to work together on the field of sport.
According to the minister, Government was still very focused on making sports a full industry, and entities such as the Chelsea Academy could lead the way in helping Barbadian youth fulfil a dream, while at the same time promoting Barbados as a destination where sports teams from Britain and continental Europe could complete winter training.
“The exposure given [by the academy] to our young aspiring footballers, while imparting the relevant techniques, enhances their personal development and reinforces football as a career choice,” Lashley noted.
He also said Barbados would be looking to create an opportunity for European countries which will be competing in the 2016 World Cup in Brazil, to conduct training programmes in Barbados when the facility is completed at Wildey, St Michael.
President of the Barbados Football Association (BFA), Randy Harris, said the country’s governing body for the sport was honoured Barbados had been chosen as the venue where the camp would climax once again.
“This is a great opportunity for all young players in the Caribbean. This is where you start to fulfill your dream, and I urge you to take it very seriously,” the BFA chief advised the 39 young players.
Harris also told the players that should they learn well from their coaches and adopt the right mindset throughout their training, there was a distinct possibility they could make a good living from playing football.
Digicel’s commerical director Alex Tasker said his company was again proud to be involved in sponsorship of the academy, since it is grass roots football which provides opportunities for budding stars in the Caribbean.
“The coaching clinics are a fundamental part of our programme, since development of young players is vital for the Caribbean and Central America,” Tasker said.
“What we are doing is building and moulding the future football stars of the Caribbean.”