The best young footballing talent from 12 countries across the Caribbean and Central America completed the 2013 Digicel Academy held at the Kensington Oval in Barbados.
Teams comprising players from Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Bermuda, Grenada, Haiti, Jamaica, Panama, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago featured in a dramatic final which was won by the Digicel Academy’s Team Lampard.
An awards ceremony closed the week of activities in which the aspiring young footballers were put through their paces by the Chelsea FC Foundation coaches.
The final day saw the top two teams playing in the final match between the Barbados National U–17 team and the Digicel Academy’s Team Lampard — named after English national player and Chelsea FC central midfielder, Frank Lampard. In the end, Team Lampard emerged victorious and the boys were awarded their championship trophy while the runners-up received medals for their effort.
Digicel Group Head of Sponsorship, James Wynne, spoke about the benefits that come from attending the Digicel Academy by saying; “We are happy to see more players attending the Academy this year. And, through our partnership with the Chelsea FC Foundation, we are supporting the development of grassroots football across the Caribbean and Central America. For the first time this year, the coaches hosted the Kick Start Clinics as well as the Academy and from what we have seen at the Academy this year, the boys are benefiting from this continuity.”
Digicel Academy Head Coach, David Monk, was very impressed with this year’s group of players, saying; “I would like to congratulate the winners of this year’s round robin tournament and the boys who attended the Digicel Academy. This group of players have raised the bar in how they combine their natural talent with the techniques and strategies that they learned at the Academy — which we saw being demonstrated during the 3–v–3 tournament and in today’s round robin final.
“They have demonstrated that they can effectively compete with other top footballers across the region and no doubt this is a good indication that if they continue on this path of development, they will have a bright future in the sport.”
President of the Barbados Football Association, Randy Harris, also commended Digicel for their initiative, he said; “Digicel and Chelsea Football Club are definitely making a difference in the quality of football that is being played in the region. I am confident that the players who attended the academy — will see an improvement in their games and will share what they have learned with the teammates in their home country.”
The Digicel Kick Start Clinics programme is a once in a lifetime opportunity for the hundreds of aspiring young footballers. These players are not only taught skills and technical ability but also an ethos of professionalism and a good attitude – critical attributes of successful people in all walks of life. Now in their sixth year, the Clinics saw hundreds of aspiring young footballers from across 11 countries in the Caribbean and Central America try out for their chance to travel to the Digicel Academy.
During the Clinics, the best players from each country trained under the coaches in the hope of being one of the top four chosen by them to go to the Digicel Academy in Barbados to represent their country.
During the week-long Digicel Academy, the top 39 boys from across the region get the chance of a lifetime to receive intensive training under coaches from Barclays Premier League side, Chelsea Football Club.