Kudos to Digicel for once again displaying its corporate responsibility by promoting the biggest and best youth football tournament in the country. It is easily the most anticipated event on the secondary schools sports’ calendar.
This tournament is especially important for teams from the hinterland because it represents the only opportunity for them to showcase their abundant skills at the national level. Sadly, our national sports structure is so set up that such exposures are extremely rare.
For those who have been following this tournament from its inception, those secondary school teams that have come from the hinterland have been performing exceptionally well for teams that are from such outlying areas with little or no club structure and formal coaching. Their competitiveness can only go down to raw talent which, if harnessed, can have immense national value.
The hinterland teams creating the most waves are Waramadong Secondary from Region 7, Santa Rosa Secondary from Region 1 and St Ignatius Secondary from Region 9. Already for this year’s version Waramadong has made it through to the next round, while the other schools are yet to play their group games.
At last year’s tourney Waramadong Secondary made it to the finals while St Ignatius Secondary lost in the semi-finals to the eventual champions from Linden by the slimmest of margins, after leading for almost the whole game until a few questionable late calls tilted the game in favour of the eventual winners.
These outstanding performances by the hinterland teams should be a catalyst for doing more scouting in these areas to uncover talent at the grassroot level so that they can be groomed into better players at the national level. Certainly from last year’s tournament a few players from Waramadong Secondary gained national recognition, while Franklyn Parks from St Ignatius was the star national player at the U-17 international tournament last year. It is almost certain that if it wasn’t for this Digicel tournament then these players who gained national recognition would never have been spotted.
In recognition of the unbelievable performances of these hinterland schools against all odds, these players deserve another opportunity to showcase their skills. I am suggesting to the main sponsor Digicel if they can collaborate with the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs to have the top two hinterland school teams come and be part of the National Amerindian Heritage Month celebrations when the top sporting teams from the hinterland areas come out to Georgetown to participate in a national sports event. It seems a most fitting way to reward them for their achievement.
It will most certainly be a huge hit among the large contingent of hinterland sports fans who now reside on the coastland and who usually come out in large numbers to support their home team. It will be a major PR success for the sponsors as well as serving a most worthy sporting cause for these deserving young footballers.