Since its inception last year, the Digicel/Jamaica Football Federation Grassroots Football Programme has trained nearly 600 coach participants from football confederations islandwide through its coach educator programme.
This programme is expected to improve the quality of football coaching talent at the parish level. Andre Virtue, coordinator of the programme, sees it as an important part of sustaining Jamaican football as a whole.
"If grassroots football is not encouraged, football at the highest level will suffer, and the only way to grow grassroots is to multiply leaders or coach educators," Virtue said.
The coach educator programme employs a combined theoretical and practical teaching method to properly prepare participants for the role of supervising aspiring players who are not exposed to the game competitively. Coach educators are taken through a classroom session where they are taught basic skills such as team building and the roles and responsibilities of the coach. They are then taken on to the field to put these skills into action supervising the young players who are part of the Digicel/JFF Grassroots Football Programme.
Jermaine Gordon, physical education teacher and participant in the programme, believes it has helped him to work better with younger footballers.
"I am used to working with 9-year-olds and up, so this programme has shown me how to adjust my drills to accommodate younger age groups," Gordon said.
Commenting on the programme, Tahnida Nunes, Digicel's senior sponsorship manager, said: "Digicel has partnered with the JFF to foster the development of Jamaican football among young players, and we hope the graduates of the Grassroots Coach Educator Programme will advance this process."