'Special' focus for third Digicel/JFF grassroots football clinic
KINGSTON: With a renewed focus on the development of special-needs athletes, the third season of the Digicel/Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) grassroots football clinic kicked off at the JFF training centre at UWI, Mona.
Hundreds of young boys and girls from across the island between ages six and 11 will be coached the fundamentals of the sport in the areas of ball control, dribbling, kicking, and team dynamics. Speaking about the vision behind supporting programmes like these from the grassroots phase, Minister with responsibility for sport, Natalie Neita-Headley, commended Digicel for leading this initiative.
"To attach yourself to the beginning of a programme might not be the most glamorous; people like to attach themselves to the end and to the winning product, the winning team and to the winning athlete. But those who have the vision to invest in what goes into making that winning product are extraordinary and must be commended," said Neita-Headley at the official launch of the programme on Saturday.
Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) president Captain Horace Burrell says such a contribution has far-reaching implications.
"Digicel has looked beyond the borders, realising that this is a part of the nation-building," said Burrell. "This is why I have so much respect for Digicel, because they have become involved in so many areas of life here in Jamaica that go a far way in helping our youngsters to unearth and build on their God-given talent."
It was also announced at the launch that Jamaica's Special Olympics football team will be included in this year's programme.
"This is a big part of the Special Olympics Unified Sports concept, and this will definitely go a far way in helping the team prepare for the eighth staging of the Special Olympics Unified Football event, which will be held on November 22," noted executive director of Special Olympics Jamaica, Mrs. Lorna Bell.
Customer Solutions director at Digicel, Patrick King, stated their support for the Special Olympics programme.
"Special needs is an area that is very near and dear to the heart of Digicel, so we are delighted to be extending this programme to the Special Olympics team."
King continued: "Our vision for sports in Jamaica is very clear; we invest in young athletes today by helping them to hone their skills, and in the future Jamaica will be able to reap from a pool of talented sportsmen and sportswomen. And so our aim is to use programmes like the Digicel/JFF Grassroots Football programme, the Digicel/ISSA T20 Grassroots Cricket and the Digicel/MVP Athletics to accomplish this."
Ahead of the first set of clinics, Digicel handed over approximately 2,000 balls to the JFF. Each student who participates in the programme will receive a football at the end so they can continue to practice all the skills they learnt in the clinic.