André Virtue, coordinator of the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF)/Digicel/WATA and Bigga Grassroots Football Festival, has lofty expectations when the programme hits "the football-crazy parish of St Catherine" today, starting at 10 a.m.
"It's been going excellently as the parish associations have been playing their part. St Catherine is a football-crazy parish, so we have high expectations come tomorrow (today)," he told The Gleaner in an interview yesterday.
The programme has passed through 12 of the nation's 14 parishes already and Virtue said "the goal is on target, the children (boys and girls) are having fun".
He had high praises for main sponsors telecommunications giant Digicel, as well as Wisynco, through its products WATA and Bigga. There is also support from the sports' world governing body, FIFA.
"Kudos to all the sponsors as without them we would not have such an important programme. They have allowed us (JFF) to play our part," Virtue noted.
Virtue is already looking forward to next year.
"After the St Andrew leg in March, we will continue with year two of the three-year initiative," the coordinator said.
A JFF release said some 150 children from the parish of St Catherine will participate in the 13th and penultimate Digicel/JFF Grassroots Festival ... with the coach educators' session at 10 a.m., to be followed by the festival at 1:30 p.m.
The Grassroots programme is aimed at creating an enjoyable environment for boys and girls between the ages 6-12 to be exposed to some of the rudiments of the game through participation in the festival. It is guided by the philosophy that children learn best through play and the more they play is the more they learn.
The day's activities are split into two components, a coach educators' session drawing the community representatives, where the best way to interact and get the best out of this age group will be discussed.
The second component is the festival, which is structured into small-side games that facilitate the children having maximum use of the ball through exercises, which include heading, kicking, shooting and all the key components of the game.
Since the start of the programme last May, some 1,400 children have participated, as well as some 350 coach educators.
- Marc Stamp