YOUNG FOOTBALLERS OF THE DIGICEL ACADEMY ARE CELEBRATED AT AWARDS CEREMONY
Following months of preliminary sessions as well as the Digicel Kick Start Clinics, the crème de la crème of the region’s young footballing talent were yesterday celebrated at a closing ceremony to mark the end of the inaugural Digicel Academy 2011.
Thirty-seven of the region’s most talented footballers spent one week training and living as professional footballers under the guidance of Sunderland Academy coaches, Kevin Ball and Carlton Fairweather, before putting their newly-acquired expertise to the test in a series of football matches yesterday morning which took place in Trinidad’s Hasely Crawford National Football Stadium.
Following the matches in the morning, an awards ceremony took place in which Kevin Ball and Carlton Fairweather awarded the top performers in the categories of Most Disciplined (Shavon John Brown, Grenada); Most Committed (Ivan Morillo, Panama); Most Improved Player (Akeem Garcia, Trinidad) and Most Valuable Player (Erikkson Phede, Haiti) – as well as two prizes for the top scorers in the Hot Shot competition (Akeem Garcia, Trinidad) and the Cross Bar challenge (Sorencio Juliaans, Suriname).
Digicel Group Head of Sponsorship, Karl Donnelly, said; “It was great to see the months of hard work from nine Digicel markets actually come to life and I think the players who got this opportunity will remember it for the rest of their lives. The experience of training as a professional – albeit for a short period of time, is something that I am sure will inspire these players in their future careers. While not all may realise their dream of playing professional football, this experience will stand to them beyond that, which is why it is such an important initiative for Digicel.”
After the awards ceremony, Ball and Fairweather spoke exclusively to www.digicelfootball.com about the week’s training and what advice they would give to the boys going forward.
“This has been a very enjoyable and fulfilling week because at the end of it, we could see our training and guidance come to fruition and come out in the game – which was great because it meant the players had really been listening,” said Ball.
“When we first started we felt the players were a little shy and a little bit introverted – and that’s understandable. It’s a big ask for them because for many it’s the first time in their life they are away from home and parents and in a completely different environment. But as the week progressed and they began to work in smaller teams, we saw them develop and become more comfortable in their surroundings,” he continued.
- What advice do you have to these players going forward?
“One of the biggest things we emphasise is that they must be dedicated – as you would be to anything you want to achieve in life. I would also say to them to remember what we’ve thought them and continue to work harder at their game.
“The Digicel Academy is definitely very beneficial to these young players because it gives them an insight into what it takes – and the level of commitment that it takes – to be an Academy player in Europe. It’s not just talent alone – determination, desire, hard work and commitment are all required to succeed,” said Fairweather, “and my three key things for the boys to take away with them are the three D’s – dedication, desire and detail,” he finished.
The Digicel Academy is a week-long elite training camp which took place in Trinidad from November 1st to 7th under the leadership of top Barclays Premier League coaches, Kevin Ball and Carlton Fairweather, from the Sunderland Academy, assisted by John Barnes. It involved 37 players from across nine Digicel markets. The Digicel Academy will also hosted a ‘coach the coaches’ seminar in which coaches from across the region will get expert training from Sunderland AFC’s finest teachers.