For each of the 32 young participants, the Digicel Academy is the opportunity of a lifetime – to spend one week training under coaches from Chelsea F.C. Foundation. However, for one young boy – Shadrach Henry from St. Lucia -the opportunity has truly been a life-changing and extraordinary experience.
Shadrach got his first taste for football when his father took him to his first game at the national stadium in St. Lucia. For many years, his father continued taking him to matches until young Shadrach’s passion and love for the game – along with his talent – developed and blossomed. Shadrach’s father played for Black Mallet, one of the teams in the national football league in St. Lucia and, growing up, Shadrach says his father was always his guiding light and his biggest fan supporting him in his aspirations as a young footballer every step of the way.
However, Shadrach’s love for the game took a stumble when sadly, his role model and idol, his father, passed away last year. Shadrach decided he didn’t want to play the game ever again.
“When my father died I lost all interest in playing football – it reminded me too much of him and the times we would spend together playing or watching the game. It wasn’t until my friends convinced me to participate in a soccerama in Central Castries – which led to my participation in the Digicel Kick Start Clinics – that I decided to start playing football again.”
The soccerama was a pre-selection event organised by Digicel. The top players were given a chance to participate in the Digicel Kick Start Clinics with the opportunity to represent their country at the Digicel Academy in Barbados.
As a result of his extraordinary talents and dedication to improving his game, Shadrach was selected by England Legend, John Barnes, as one of the three boys from the St. Lucia Digicel Kick Start Clinics who would go to Barbados and participate in the Digicel Academy. An amazing achievement as he was one of the first boys from St. Lucia to ever participate in the Digicel Academy.
hadrach recounts; “After I was selected to attend the Digicel Academy in Barbados, I was very happy and excited, however, I realised that I would need to continue practicing and playing football. Seeing that I had not played in months, and therefore was not a member of any football team, I decided to train by myself on Vigie Beach back home to prepare for the Digicel Academy.”
He continues; “The hard work paid off as, here at the Digicel Academy, my passion for the game has returned. I am really enjoying playing with people from different countries because I get to learn different styles of play and also improve my mental strength for football. My father always told me to work hard, never give up and that’s what I intend to do at the Digicel Academy. I know that if he was alive right now, he would be very proud of me and I plan to do my best while I am here at the Academy.”
Shadrach is one of 32 boys from across the Caribbean, Central America and South Florida participating in the Digicel Academy – a week-long elite training camp under the leadership of coaches from Europe and FA Cup champions Chelsea F.C.
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.
Visit www.digicelfootball.com for more information.