Twenty-seven football coaches and Physical Education teachers will be equipped by the end of the week to evolve the Scotiabank Concacaf NextPlay Cup and more importantly the youth and sports.
Concacaf’s General NextPlay Co-ordinator Andre Virtue made it clear to the participants this morning, at the opening of the two-day workshop at the Barbados Olympic Association, that the instructors were not here “to show you how to be a better passer or dribbler of the ball, but we’re coming to complement that technical stuff with an approach and presenting it to you as we go toward training and competition”.
The program, which was launched in Bahamas, Barbados, Jamaica, St Vincent and the Grenadines and Trinidad and Tobago in 2018, saw over 1,000 children gain soccer skills as well as valuable life skills.
This year’s NextPlay Cup is scheduled to kick off on October 14 and will run for six weeks; culminating in a two-week tournament, following two after-school training sessions for the period. Last year 1,600 students were targeted, and this year the aim is to attract 4,500 students or a 280 per cent increase of participants.
“We want to take the opportunity to grow and expand, so in the case of Jamaica and Trinidad, we will have 64 schools which are going to be split up into two regions; 32 in one part and 32 in the next. In the case of Barbados and Bahamas there will be 48 schools with 48 teams reaching as many of the schools that we can reach,” he explained.
Virtue noted that one of Concacaf’s mandates was to expand access to the game across all of its 41 Member Associations.
“In addition to world-class execution of high level championships and tournaments, Concacaf’s mission include strengthening football at the GrassRoots level for participators throughout the region. To further that mission, the Development Department launched the Concacaf NextPlay Program last year; a teaching and mentoring initiative, designed to provide a stimulating environment for young players,” he said.
While he acknowledged a major hindrance in advancing the game was because of a lack of resources, he lauded Scotiabank and Concacaf for their efforts in stepping up to the plate.
“Concacaf has committed to providing us with the equipment to be able to do our coaching, as well as to prepare for our games. They will also provide equipment for each participating school. In addition, they will supply coaching education support to increase and raise the pool of the coaches who are out there and will impact the children, as well as provide the resources for us to do that,” he said, adding that balls, cones, goals and bibs would be given for training, while teams would be given the necessary kit for the tournament.
Additionally, Virtue said both sponsors were looking to give a tangible prize to the winner of the tournament.
“Last year the winning team was able to go to the Gold Cup in Chicago. This year Scotiabank and Concacaf are looking at contributing to something that is more continuous. We’re still in discussions as to what that is, but there is the possibility that the winning team and the runner-up are awarded something that is going to benefit the school community.
“We’ve added some dimensions to it this year to ensure a lot of what we’re talking about is part of the program. It is not about just playing a tournament and winning a trophy; it is an after school initiative that culminates in a tournament. We’re not trying to replace anything in Barbados. We’re trying to complement whatever is going on here and give it a boost to ensure that it is happening,” he said.