'Youth development crucial' - CFU president endorses Digicel KickStart Clinics
Kwesi Mugisa, Staff Reporter
Caribbean Football Union president, Gordon Derrick, has given a ringing endorsement to the annually staged Digicel KickStart Clinics, branding the camps as a crucial part of regional youth development.
The series of clinics, which officially got under way at the King George V Park, in St Clair, Trinidad and Tobago, yesterday, will travel to nine other Caribbean countries, where aspiring youngsters will get the chance to parade their skills in front of a Chelsea development coaching team.
Other clinics will be hosted in Haiti, Jamaica, Suriname, Grenada, St Vincent, St Kitts, St Lucia, Panama and Antigua. At the end of each leg, three players and a wild-card entrant will be selected for a one-week training stint at the Digicel Academy in Barbados.
"A focus on youth development is particularly crucial in these times as education becomes more expensive and sports in general, and football in particular, is one tangible vehicle young people can take to lead them to becoming active participants and contributors to sustainable national development in their particular countries," said Derrick, at a press conference to launch the event at the Hyatt Regency hotel in Trinidad and Tobago yesterday.
"With Chelsea, Digicel has added a world-renowned and internationally recognised football brand that our youngsters in the Caribbean can have direct access to," Derrick said.
Club's development coaches
The clinics, in its second year of association with European Champions Chelsea, will be led by some of the club's development coaches David Monk, Andrew Ottley, and Kane Cowburn.
However, unlike last year's intial stint, the English coaches will be more involved in the initial selection process, a job previously held by Jamaica-born England international and former national coach John Barnes.
Monk, a senior international football development officer, hinted that this year's programme would take a more rounded approach.
"Previously we have gotten all attacking players, players that can score goals. We want to ensure that our coaching, specifically designed for this programme, is inclusive of all positions," he said. "A team is inclusive of all positions playing as one."
In addition to a focus on the youngsters, the coaches will not only visit a few local schools, but also host coaching certification classes for the football tutors around the region.
This year's programme will also benefit from a new testing process, which is aimed at measuring an individual's speed, agility, and aptitude both on and off the ball, geared towards measuring the potential of young players to cope with the modern game.