Eight young footballers from the Caribbean and Central America – who were selected by England and Liverpool football legend, John Barnes, from the Digicel Kick Start Clinics 2010 – last night got the chance to watch Sunderland AFC beat Colchester 2-0 in the second round of the Carling Cup at Sunderland’s Academy of Light.
The aspiring young footballers – who will spend one week working with some of the best coaches in the Barclay’s Premier League at Sunderland AFC’s Academy of Light – took their place in the ‘Black Cats’ seats last night – an area reserved for VIPs and die-hard fans.
The boys – who arrived in Sunderland on Saturday – completed their third day of training today which kicked off with some passing and dribbling with members of the Academy’s under 16 team. The group also got the chance to discuss the qualities the Academy looks for in its players such as teamwork, attitude and determination.
Digicel Group Head of Sponsorship, Karl Donnelly, said; “This is the third day of training and I am very excited about what I have seen. There is real talent among the group and the coaching sessions are definitely helping to improve the boys’ skills.
“The boys are also spending time with the under 16 Academy players which will help them gain an understanding of the other qualities that are required to make it at a professional level in football. Having the talent is necessary, but so too are teamwork, discipline and hard work – and it’s great that the boys are seeing this first hand.”
Today the boys took a tour of the Stadium of Light’s world class amenities – including the first team’s dressing rooms, the hospitality area, the gym, the treatment rooms and hydro-therapy pool area, as well as the pitch itself which is one of the best in England. A delegation from FIFA was also at the Stadium this morning evaluating England’s bid for the 2018 World Cup so the Digicel Kick Start Clinics winners are in good company.
Winner of the Honduras leg of the Digicel Kick Start Clinics, 15 year-old Julio Oliva, said; “We have been very lucky so far in that we have had some great training sessions with the coaches which are helping us to improve our game. Last night was an amazing experience – to watch a premiership team play on their home ground was something I’ve always dreamt of.
“Meeting with the under 16 Academy players was also great. We got to speak about their training schedule, what the coaches are looking for and what it takes to play at a professional level,” he continued.
Matthew Woo Ling from Trinidad & Tobago; Vidal Gonzalez and Fernando Meneses from Panama; Jose Villavicencio, Bryan Landaverde and Alvaro Lizama from El Salvador; and Julio Oliva and German Mejia from Honduras were the eight most talented footballers selected by John Barnes from the Digicel Kick Start Clinics.
The Digicel Kick Start Clinics are supported by Jack Warner, Vice President of FIFA and President of both CONCACAF and the Caribbean Football Union.
The Clinics – which kicked off on July 20th in Trinidad & Tobago, before moving on to Panama, El Salvador and Honduras – saw 150 talented young footballers receive expert coaching in the beautiful game.
Digicel has been involved in a wide range of football initiatives designed to support the development of football in the Caribbean and Central America over the last six years. Digicel, which has operations in 32 countries worldwide, sponsors 17 Football Federations and Leagues, as well as the Digicel Caribbean Cup and the Copa de Naciones Digicel in Central America.