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Lasco pumps $5m into Ballaz youth programme

Published:Tuesday | July 12, 2016 | 7:00 AM
Catherine Goodall (left), marketing manager Lasco (left), shares a light moment with Marva Bernard, former president of the Jamaica Netball Association, at the launch of the Ballaz Liberty Park turf in Kingston.

Local manufacturing giant LASCO Manufacturing has answered the continuous calls for greater investment in youth football development, after investing more than $5 million of sponsorship for the next two years to Ballaz International.

For years, the emphasis in local football has been at the senior or high-school level. However, in recent times, there have been louder calls for a shift in focus to grass-roots development to really reap the benefits at the high-school and senior level. This move by Lasco is considered a step in that direction.

"Ballaz is a rounded programme that helps with not only the physical development, but also the social, mental and spiritual development of their players," said Lasco's Marketing Manager Catherine Goodall.

"We are honoured to be able to facilitate this process through financial support, scholarships and, of course, through helping to provide great nutrition for the players," she said.

On June 26, a new turf was unveiled at Liberty Park, host venue for the upcoming Ballaz Summer Camp, for which registration is now open to children three to 11 years.

Racquel Virtue, executive director of human resource and administrator at Ballaz, said Liberty Park is a key component of Ballaz's long-term plans for "sustainable youth development, and although the facility is used by adults and youth alike, it is our hope that the young people will help make it home, given Ballaz's particular focus on youth".

She added: "We are eager to launch our first ever all-abilities football at Liberty Park in partnership with Liberty Academy. Children with varying intellectual and physical abilities will find a place of freedom to run, play and develop their unique abilities."

Since its inception in 2003, approximately 400 youngsters have participated in one or more Ballaz programmes, whether summer camps, player development programmes, girl clinics or community-based outreach initiatives.

Coaches and tertiary-level students have also benefited through mentorship, sports leadership, development training or league coordination and management.

The Ballaz initiative adds to a long list of LASCO's ongoing partnerships, including the Premier League teams and ISSA schoolboy football.