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Lashley lauds U-17 tourney

EZRA STUART, [email protected]

Lashley lauds U-17 tourney

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Exposing and developing footballers from an early age in junior competitions are critical components towards a successful career.

And according to Minister of Sports Stephen Lashley, the National Sports Council/Youth Development Programme Under-17 Community Tournament is the right avenue to tap in on the talents of the teenagers.       

“I believe that this tournament offers our young males, in particular – and this year, we brought our females on board – an important avenue for self and personal development,” he said during a brief speech after last Sunday’s final between St James North and Christ Church East Central at Briar Hall.

“I believe that it is at this stage that we will get to see our best footballers. Our intention is that we want to ensure that you can develop to your true potential, as football is a multibillion-dollar industry,” Lashley said.

The minister said the success of the Barbados national teams could be enhanced by spotting gifted footballers early. 

“Barbados, over the years, has continued to perform very well but we can do, in my view, even better by early identification of our footballers,” he asserted. “This tournament offers that avenue for you to do well but in so doing, it gives us the opportunity of making your career path even better.

“I hope that some of you will see this as a journey towards a career of international standard and that your involvement at this level would not just be for the fun of it.

“I want you to consider that you are being a part of being significant role models,” he added.

St James North were eventual champions, winning 5-4 on penalties after the scores were locked 2-2 at the end of regulation and extra time.

“So as we celebrate the end of yet another tournament, I make you the solemn promise that we are in this for the long haul, as we look to this year and another tournament in which we are going to see young men and women climbing to the height of what they can do on the field of play and inspiring all of us who look on to really look on in admiration at your development,” Lashley said.

“I’ve seen some fine talent developing over the years and we intend to harness that talent and to make sure that you can be even better than you were last year.”

Lashley, whose portfolio also includes youth and culture, complimented the fans for their behaviour.

 “At this time in Barbados, when we talk so much about what is happening in terms of violence in sports, violence at events, I’ve noticed throughout this tournament, that the fans were well behaved. They came out and supported their teams. There was lots of jubilation.

“I believe there was a carnival staged here at Briar Hall. This field was turned into Grand Kadooment, so to speak but you did it in fine style, supporting your team but doing it with decorum and decency.”

He also lauded the referee and their assistants, the Youth Division, including Director of Youth Cleviston Hunte, the National Sports Council.

Former Barbados Football Association council members Charles Husbands and Basil Gittens coordinated the tournament, with assistance from NSC deputy director Neil Murrell and the YDP’s John Hollingsworth. (EZS)