KINGSTOWN, ST. VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES – St. Vincent and the Grenadines Football Federation (SVGFF) hosted a two-day Train the Trainers Workshop on April 12 and 13, to prepare teachers from the four chosen schools that will participate in the Concacaf Next Play grassroots program.
The Concacaf Next Play program is guided by the Confederation’s aim to inspire the love for our game and provide children with access to more opportunities to play football across our 41 Member Associations.
In Saint Vincent, participating schools Georgetown Primary, Kingstown Preparatory, Lowmans Government, and Barrouallie Government will benefit from the program. Twenty-five students from each entity are expected to be part of the 100–student pilot phase scheduled to begin May 12.
Speaking of the Concacaf Next Play Program, the Confederation’s Development Officer Lenny Lake said: “The program offers an extraordinary opportunity to access to football within the schools. For many years we have been trying to implement a comprehensive grassroots platform in schools and have attempted many different models.
“I always believe that grassroots should be institutionalized and the end users, the teachers, the PE teachers, the people that work every day for hours with the children, should be the ones that are educated to run this program.
Concacaf Next Play represents five key principles including football, friendship, fun, and promoting social values for the future generations.”
Technical Director of the SVGFF Keith Ollivierre sees the Concacaf Next Play platform 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 the game, the Football Federation and the Ministry of Education. 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.”
SVGFF President 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 through what comes out from the school in an educational and physical settings, the country will gain from it at the national level.”
Coombs 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 on this program.
“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.”
St. Vincent and the Grenadines is in a very select group of five countries for the initial phase of the project. Barbados, Jamaica, The Bahamas, and Trinidad and Tobago, are also implementing the program.
The Director of Sports in St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ Ministry of Tourism, Sports, and Culture Nelson Hillocks, commented on the initiative: “After this program have come to an end, we in St. Vincent (and the Grenadines), the Federation and the Ministry; all of us must bind together to sustain it, keep it going. Together we have to spread it, strengthen it.”
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 program.”
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.”
Concacaf Development’s Officer said spoke about the teachers that participated in this workshop.
“We want it to become a family, we want you to recognize that everything you are doing will impact the future of our game - the children. You can ensure that if they are not great footballers, they are great citizens.
“The program has an arm to it that reaches out for social change, and how can you connect the game to transform lives. Too many times we believe if they are playing football there is no connection between what the sport gives to them and how they should live their lives.
“When we play football, we share the ball we pass to each other so 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 values and begin to educate 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.”