KINGSTOWN, ST. VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES; TUESDAY FEBRUARY 06, 2018 – A number of representatives from key stakeholders met Tuesday at the conference room of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Football Federation, to discuss the 2018 CONCACAF Grassroots Football and Education Programme.

St. Vincent and the Grenadines is one of five Caribbean countries earmark for the pilot phase of this project, set to kick off simultaneously in all five countries on April 12 – 14, 2018, with the Coach Educator Training.

Regional confederation CONCACAF will provide the facilitators.

Speaking of the programme, Jason Roberts, newly appointed CONCACAF Director of Development told the gathering, “This is how we use football as a tool for social change.”

(left – right) Andre Waugh, Jason Roberts, and Venold Coombs

On April 14, 2018 will be the simultaneous roll-out in all five territories, with four schools in St. Vincent and the Grenadines identified to be part of the pilot phase.

They are Kingstown Preparatory, Georgetown Primary, Lowmans Government, and Barrouallie Government schools, respectively. Twenty-five students from each school will be part of the 100 –student pilot phase grouping.

The programme will run for eight weeks, with two one hour sessions per week. The schools were allowed to choose the days more suitable for them, with Kingstown Prep selecting Mondays and Thursdays, Georgetown chose Mondays and Wednesdays, and Barrouallie Tuesdays and Fridays.

The sessions were tailored to be of one hour duration, “for the physiological development of the youth must be respected,” said Andre Waugh.

The five Caribbean territories are Barbados, Jamaica, The Bahamas, Trinidad and Tobago, and Barbados.

Appointed as local coordinator is Theon Gordon of whom Andre Waugh said they “saw the potential of Theon Gordon at the recent Train-the-Trainers workshop” in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

president of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Football Federation – Venold Coombs

Waugh, who is Caribbean Development Manager for CONCACAF, told the stakeholder representatives at Tuesday’s meeting that football (sports) “creates lifelong friendships, and life long bonds”

This he pointed out, is critical to the social development of the region and for football to realise its true potential. This Grassroots Football and Education Programme he warned is not about winning: “it is about development of the players. It is about preparing them for life.

Jason Roberts who has a distinguished background in professional football, is the CONCACAF Director of Development. Speaking at Tuesday morning’s meeting, Roberts said that the youth leagues are the platform for development, further evident by the Jason Roberts Foundation he established in Grenada in 2008, and the youth development programmes in a number of islands.

Roberts said that he is looking forward to giving something back to the region, and at the end of his professional career in 2014, he moved back to Grenada with his family.

Now based in Miami, Roberts’ focus is on managing and strengthening the Confederation’s core development programs including grassroots, coaching education, and professional football development initiatives. He will be based in Miami, Florida and report to the Chief of Football Officer Manolo Zubiria.

President of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Venold Coombs was very happy with the Grassroots Football and Education Programme, which he said dovetails nicely into the youth development strategies and programmes of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Football Federation.

According to Coombs, a number of youth development initiatives here in St. Vincent and the Grenadines are towards targeting the youth. Programmes such as the Under-10s, and primary school football, is to lay and develop the foundation for overall development.

It was under the watch of Venold Coombs, that the executive of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Football Federation re-introduced primary school football.

Participants at Tuesday’s meeting pose for a group photo

He highlighted the fact that “there are several communities in St. Vincent and the Grenadines where there are persons, who are working very hard to develop youth football.”

Coombs also spoke of the appointments of Andre Waugh (Caribbean Development Manager for CONCACAF), and Jason Roberts (CONCACAF Director of Development) as “when we have indigenous persons in positions such as these they are better placed to interface with persons in the development of the sport.”

He further stated that he is confident that with Jason Roberts in that position, the Windward Islands and by extension the OECS, will benefit immensely.

The SVGFF president called on all the stakeholders to take full advantage of CONCACAF Grassroots Football and Education Programme, for “we have to look at our disadvantaged position.”

Of Coombs, the Caribbean Development Manager for CONCACAF Andre Waugh said that “it is not often you see presidents attending these types of meetings for it is not high profile.”

He congratulated the SVGFF president on the efforts led by him to develop youth football in the island, for “we need to get persons to look past the skills of the game.”

Andre Waugh and Jason Roberts travelled to Barbados on Wednesday, from there they proceed on to the last leg of their journey Jamaica, before returning to CONCACAF Headquarters to prepare for the launch and hosting of the CONCACAF Grassroots Football and Education Programme.