After what has been an intense and rewarding week of training under coaches from the Chelsea FC Foundation, the 2012 Digicel Academy came to a close last Sunday in an exciting finish that saw the 32 aspiring young footballers take on the Barbados Under 17s team in a round robin tournament.
Three 30-minute matches saw the Academy participants split into two teams – each playing the Under 17s National side, as well as each other. Despite the Digicel Academy teams showing off some of the world-class skills they picked up during the week, the Barbados Under 17s team won the round robin tournament on goal difference.
Following the round robin tournament, it was time for the prize-giving ceremony in which each of the 32 participants was rewarded with a certificate and a medal from Digicel and Chelsea. On top of that, four special prizes were awarded to the individual Hot Shot winner, the Most Valuable Player, Most Improved Player and finally to the player who displayed the Best Sportsmanship.
Luc Miller, young St. Lucian football player whose dream is to become a professional footballer and to make himself, his family, and his country proud did just that as he was awarded Most Valuable Player. Luc, who attends the Castries Comprehensive Secondary School, is an avid football player for local football club VSADC and the Castries Central district team.
Shadrach Henry of FC Pioneers and a student of the Castries Comprehensive Secondary School, also had his moment to shine as he shared his inspirational story of his journey to the Academy. Being guided in his younger days by his deceased father “Shadow”, Shadrach related to team members how “Shadow’s” dream was realized with him being a participant of the Academy.
The other St. Lucian player, Ridel Stanislaus of Clendon Mason, player for Young Stars and also a representative of the Dennery Youth team played his role in gaining as much knowledge from the week long training and coaching by Chelsea FC coaches.
Speaking at the award ceremony, Chelsea International Development Officer and Academy Head Coach, David Monk, said; “Firstly, I want to congratulate each and every one of the Digicel Academy participants – as well as the eight coaches – for what has been an outstanding week of hard work and professionalism – you should be very proud of yourselves. For us, in the first of a three year partnership with Digicel, it has been a very successful week of coaching and we look forward to the great things to come in the development of youth football in the Caribbean and Central America over the next number of years.”
Digicel Group Director of Marketing Operations, Kieran Foley, said; “I am thrilled to say that the 2012 Digicel Academy has been a huge success – delivering a week of world-class training to the 32 aspiring young Academy footballers. Not only is this a chance for these boys to kick start their professional footballing careers but also – and possibly more importantly, this is an opportunity for the eight coaches to take what they have learned with the Chelsea FC Foundation coaches back to their own countries and in turn pass on that knowledge to the hundreds of young boys they coach.
“This is just the beginning of this wonderful partnership and we are hugely excited about the possibilities to grow and develop it for the benefit of youth football across the region. Congratulations to all,” continued Foley.
Since 2004, Digicel has been involved in a wide range of football initiatives designed to support the development of football in the Caribbean and Central America. In addition to the Digicel Kick Start Clinics, Digicel sponsors 17 National Football Associations and Federations as well as the two main regional football qualification tournaments in the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) region.