During Suriname’s reign as hosts of Group C of this year’s Digicel Caribbean Cup, former Dutch and Ajax FC football legend, Aron Winter, spoke exclusively to www.digicelfootball.com about the talent in the region and the importance of tournaments such as the Digicel Caribbean Cup in supporting the development of Caribbean football.
“I’m here in Suriname for a couple of reasons – primarily though to observe the level and quality of football in the Digicel Caribbean Cup. Also, we are here to carry out some social initiatives geared towards youth football that have been funded by charity games organised in the Netherlands,” said Winter.
Winter, now retired, currently works with the Netherlands Football Federation (KNVB) as the Technical Director, and, more recently as an Ambassador for World Cultures which has brought about these youth football initiatives. Similar to the Digicel Kick Start Clinics, they look to develop football at grass roots levels and Aron commended Digicel for its support. “The development of football in the region has to start with the youths. It is important to start with the youngest, as they will have the basic foundations by a certain age – resulting in them becoming better players.
“I think the Digicel Kick Start Clinics are a good thing because it is very important to use good football players as an example – and it’s our responsibility to develop football at community level,” he continued.
“I’ve been watching the Digicel Caribbean Cup which is a very important competition – both for the host countries like Suriname and for the region in general. It plays a very important role in the region by not only giving the teams valuable international experience but also giving them the chance to qualify as one of the top four teams to go through to play in the CONCACAF Gold Cup.
“The lack of good, regulated competition is one of the main problems to the development of football in the region, especially as it relates to the youths.
“I would like to see tournaments develop to include the under 20s, under 17s, and even on a smaller scale the under 15s, because the development of good competitions will improve football in Caribbean countries even further,” he concluded.
The final Group of the Digicel Caribbean Cup 2010 will take place this week in Antigua from November 10th – 14th when Suriname will take on hosts Antigua & Barbuda, Dominica and Cuba for a place in the finals.
The eight best teams from the region will play in the finals in Martinique for the title of Digicel Caribbean Cup champions 2010 and walk away with US$120,000 – the largest cash prize for football in the region. Runners up will take home US$70,000 and third and fourth place winners will win US$50,000 and US$30,000 respectively. The top four countries will also advance to the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup in the United States.