Two Young Footballers From Jamaica Win ‘Wild Card’ Spots For The Digicel Academy

Last chance winners get one week of training under the leadership of top Barclays Premier League coaches

After taking part in the Jamaican leg of the 2011 Digicel Kick Start Clinics last week, young footballers Shamar Dillon and Dominic James scored themselves a place at the Digicel Academy at the eleventh hour, having achieved the highest points in the Digicel Hot Shot Wild Card competition.
Despite having not been originally selected to represent Jamaica at the Academy, Shamar Dillon and Dominic James played their best in the Hot Shot contest – a skills-based shooting competition with participants gaining points for shots netted through a cover over the goal. Scoring 60 and 75 points respectively, their high scores placed them above the other Hot Shot winners from Haiti, Panama, St Kitts & Nevis, Grenada and Suriname, guaranteeing them the two ‘wild card’ places.
The lucky boys will now join the ‘crème de la crème’ of young footballing talent at the Digicel Academy – a week-long elite training camp which will be led by top Barclays Premier League coaches from Sunderland’s “Academy of Light”, Kevin Ball and Carlton Fairweather, with assistance from John Barnes.
15-year old Shamar Dillon spoke of his excitement at winning a ‘wild card’ place, saying; “I was disappointed when I didn’t win a place at first, but I felt confident with the ball during the Hot Shot contest and I was very excited to be told I won that. I’m looking forward to the Digicel Academy, especially as it’s the very first time I’m going overseas. The best part will be meeting the Sunderland coaches and getting training tips from them.”
A total of 37 aspiring young footballers will attend the Academy in Trinidad from November 1st to 7th, made up from the original Digicel Kick Start Clinics winners, along with boys chosen in Antigua and Trinidad through separate selection processes.
Throughout the week, the boys will train extensively under Sunderland’s “Academy of Light” coaches, Kevin Ball and Carlton Fairweather, and will also be treated to cultural and educational outings. The once-in-a-lifetime experience will see the youngsters train as professional footballers for a week, and will also teach them invaluable life skills such as personal discipline, teamwork and good sportsmanship.
Speaking of his hopes for the upcoming Digicel Academy, Carlton Fairweather commented; “It’s a huge honour for me personally and of course, for Sunderland Football Club, to be playing a part in the ongoing development of football across the Caribbean and Central America.  We are looking forward to working with this talented group of youngsters and seeing just how far they can go.”
In addition, the Digicel Academy will also host ‘coach the coaches’ sessions, with one local football association coach from each region travelling to receive training and tips from the world class Sunderland coaches, with an aim to improve their own standard of coaching upon returning home.
The Digicel Kick Start Clinics officially began on Sunday 18th September in Haiti, before travelling on to Panama, New York, St Kitts & Nevis, Grenada, Suriname and Jamaica. The clinics will now culminate in a week long training session at the Digicel Academy in Trinidad from Tuesday November 1st to Monday November 7th.