KINGSTOWN, ST. VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES – St. Vincent and the Grenadines Football Federation hosted a two-day Train the Coaches Workshop on April 12 and 13, 2018, to prepare teachers from the four chosen schools.

These schools are Georgetown Primary, Kingstown Preparatory, Lowmans Government, and Barrouallie Government. Twenty-five students from each school are expected to be part of the 100–student pilot phase schedule to begin May 12.

Speaking of the CONCACAF Grassroots Programme, CONCACAF Development Officer Lenny Lake said: “The programme represents football in schools. For many years we have been trying to find a way to get it right with grassroots and have attempts so many different models.

“I always believe that grassroots should be institutionalised and the end users, the teachers, the PE teachers, the persons that work every day for hours with the children, should be the one that is educated to run this programme.

The programme represents five words – the programme is about fun, the programme is about friendship, the programme is about football, the programme is about fair play, and the program is about future.”

the young football players going through some basic warm up drills (photo-: Robertson S. Henry)

Technical Director of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Football Federation Keith Ollivierre sees the CONCACAF Grassroots Programme as one where the Caribbean “can be competitive with our European partners, and our Central and North American partners.”

In addressing the island’s Ministry of Education, Ollivierre who is also a teacher stated “It’s an exciting day for football for the Football Federation and the Ministry of Education. What we are going to do I know that down the road the Ministry of Education is going to see the benefits and eventually incorporate football within the curriculum, or the teaching and learning environment within the schools.”

Venold Coombs is of the opinion that the aim of the participating teachers is to advance football not only in their particular local school or institution “but nationally, because what comes out from the school in an educational setting and a physical setting, the country will gain from it at the national level.”

Coombs who is the president of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Football Federation pointed out “We have to be very dedicated. We have to show that level of seriousness and progression. Let us go from step to step and build.

“In a futuristic way we now have to mix natural ability with science and technology. That is why we are doing all that is necessary to equip our officials, and develop the human resource.”

Local Coordinator Theron Gordon taking the trainee coaches though some exercises (photo-: Robertson S. Henry)

St. Vincent and the Grenadines is in a very select group of five countries for the initial phase of the project. These five countries are Barbados, Jamaica, The Bahamas, Trinidad and Tobago, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

“After this programme have come to an end by CONCACAF, we in St. Vincent (and the Grenadines), the Federation and the Ministry; all of us must bind together to sustain this programme, keep it going. Together we have to spread it, strengthen it.”

These were the words of Nelson Hillocks, Director of Sports in St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ Ministry of Tourism, Sports, and Culture.

Hillocks added “I know that there are other proposals on the table and that we will not duplicate, but come up with one big national plan where we can spread football. We know the future lies with the grassroots, the future are the youths, and we know that we need the best coaches to start our junior programme.”

The Vincentian Director of Sports warned the coaches that “There are sacrifices to be made. We expect you to be punctual and on time and as coaches you will have to adapt to the safe stamp policies. Respect your students and these days we must be careful where child protection is concerned.”

the young players going through some match play skills (photo-: Robertson S. Henry)

The CONCACAF Development Officer further explained that the programme “is about fun, the programme is about friendship, the programme is about football, the programme is about fair play, and the future is about future.”

He went on to clarify that the teachers who took part in the April 12 – 13, 2018 workshop that “we want it to become a family, we want you to recognise that everything that you do is about the future of the game – the children, and to make sure that in the end that if they are not great footballers, they are great citizens.

“The programme has an arm to it that reaches out for social change, and how can you connect the game to change lives? Too many times we believe because they are playing football that there is no connection between what football gives to them and how they should live their lives.

“Football when it is played we share the ball we pass to each other so in it there is a social component that represents team work. But yet when a young player – girl or boy leaves the field there is no connection to his life about understanding that ‘I should be a good family member. I should be a good student. I should be a good community person’.

“We want to be able to take from the sessions those little values and begin to give them to young minds. And in the event they do not become footballers we have done our job to make them great citizens.

“That is our responsibility. That is the future.”

the young players were taught to use the ball for warm-ups (photo-: Robertson S. Henry)