Insports ‘determined’ to fix country’s football
The Institute of Sports (INSPORTS) is targeting 5,500 youngsters islandwide for its football coaching programmes, with a 65 per cent projected increase within a five-month period as a major part of what it calls a "determined" effort to fix football in Jamaica.
In furthering these efforts, which fall within its corporate strategic plan and Minister Olivia Grange's stated philosophy to develop sports at the community level, the state agency recently established a committee to extensively evaluate Jamaica's current football programme. The overall plan is to emulate successful programmes implemented in leading football countries.
"When you look at countries such as Argentina, Spain, Germany, Brazil, and France, we see where they are the best in the sport of football. This is because they focus attention on developing the talent of youngsters from a very early stage. Within the club system, there are squads at every stage, so these players are continually developing and honing their skills and advancing to the national stage," said Ian Andrews, administrative director of INSPORTS, while addressing an under-15 coaching clinic in Kingston.
He added: "We will be further evaluating these football education programmes to determine why they are so successful and then apply these aspects to our community programme, which feeds into the national programme, as we are determined to reap success on the international platform."
Andrews said INSPORTS will shift 35 per cent of the resources it allocates to football competitions to its under-15 football coaching programme.
Andrew Wright, INSPORTS financial controller, said the programmes are geared towards strengthening knowledge and implementation of the fundamentals of the game.
"Competitions are very necessary, but the focus has to be on developing skills so when we host these competitions they can be at a higher standard and more competitive, with a squad system that allows for advancement in accordance with performance," he outlined.
"This will result in more local players being given the opportunity to develop their technique, which increases their chances of national selection. When every youth who participates in football at the community and primary school level learns how to apply the fundamentals of the game on the field of play, that's when you have real development," Wright continued.
Through this programme, INSPORTS will be employing strategies similar to the German Football Association's talent development programme introduced in 2003. The programme identifies promising youngsters and provides them with technical skills and tactical knowledge from an early age. The initiative caters for children aged eight to 14 and is served by 1,000 part-time German Football Association UEFA-licenced coaches, who are responsible for scouting and training players.
To strengthen its efforts, the state agency is establishing at least five centres per parish for its youth football development programme, which allows it to be more easily accessible to youngsters, particularly in rural Jamaica.
More attention will be placed on food and nutrition for the players from the basic school stage at the grass-roots level. Thus, a nutrition programme will form part of its coaching clinic initiative.
Assistant National Sports Coordinator Rudolph Barnes spoke to the benefits of the proper nutrition of athletes.
He said: "Without proper fuel and nourishment for the body, our players will not attain their full athletic potential and will be more susceptible to fatigue and injury. We also recognise that many of our talented footballers are from humble homes, which may not be able to afford to provide the level of nutrition needed. So with the feeding programme, we are filling that gap."