Stakeholders of the CONCACAF Grassroots Programme met at the Barbados Football Association this week
One hundred students from four local primary schools will be a part of the chosen few when the 2018 CONCACAF Grassroots Programme kicks off in April. Part of a pilot project running in just five Caribbean countries, Barbados will help to build the model to create better citizens to be administered across the Caribbean and North and Central America.
Twenty-five boys and girls each from Vauxhall Primary, Wilkie Cumberbatch, A DaCosta Edwards and St. Alban's Primary will be among the first in the region to benefit from the programme when it gets started on April 14th. During a stakeholders meeting held at the Barbados Football Association this past Wednesday, officials from the four schools, the Ministry of Education, the Barbados Football Association, CONCACAF and FIFA went about hashing out the particulars of the proposed programme.
Also slated for Jamaica, the Bahamas, Trinidad and Tobago, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the programme is expected to see five coach-educators per school trained in the delivery of the eight-week curriculum that will be using the principles of football, fun, friendship, fair play and future to build well-rounded members of society.
On-island for the meeting and site visits at each of the schools CONCACAF Director of Development Jason Roberts explained that the main aim of the programme, which is expected to be rolled out across the confederation, was not to build on children who were already playing football, but to use the sport as a vehicle to create social change and cohesion. “My background is elite football, having played in the Premier League for 15 years, but participation football – football for all – is something that I am extremely passionate about. And since coming into this role, one of our main focuses has been how can we take the benefits of football through Grassroots, increase participation and utilise sport to change the world, which sounds like a really big statement to make but I genuinely feel that participation in our fantastic sport and all other elements that come as a benefit of that help young people to develop. That is at the centre of this programme. How can we use football to leverage lessons around leadership, around teamwork, around being good social actors, and lessons around community and volunteering.” he said.
BFA President Randy Harris, was also in attendance, said that this programme and similar ones were crucially important for the region and the development plan for football as although it was not expected that many of the beneficiaries of the initiative would become players, the legacy left behind by those touched by the sport would go a long way toward building a better society. “The future of football depends on the youth, so therefore, the BFA is taking this programme very, very seriously because it all depends on how we will perform in the future. We here at the BFA are setting a platform so that when we leave at least, there will be something positive that can be continued. I want the schools to have a more serious look at football and the benefits that can be derived.” he said as he asked the schools to take a hard look at the programme and see its merits.