From a distance, the children, decked out in jerseys, seemed to be engaged in a simple game of football. But they were doing more than that.
They were directly learning discipline and other life skills during the launch of the Football With A Twist initiative on May 26 and 27 at the Mormons Church in Linstead town, St Catherine.
Founder of the programme, Wayne Clarke, said the project will officially commence this summer and will last for a period of six weeks. It involves both males and females from four to 12 years old.
“I wanted a programme where children can come and learn discipline – not just football, but a mentorship programme. I also want to bring back fun, natural clean fun [in how children spend their recreational time],” said Clarke, a native of Victoria district in Linstead.
Clarke, who now lives in the United States and has been contributing to community projects in his homeland, recalled having a penchant for football since he was a child.
He played for McGrath High in the daCosta Cup, Jamaica’s most prestigious schoolboy football competition.
He lamented that, due to financial constraints, many of his childhood peers who had sporting potential were not able to progress in sports or seek higher education.
Clarke’s desire to curb such waste of talent is among the factors that influenced the creation of Football With A Twist.
He intends to establish a strong network with schools, thereby enabling participants who are excelling in his programme to access educational opportunities.
“Maybe I will do a scholarship for the person that is ‘most improved’ or take care of their entire book list,” Clarke said. “Maybe the one that is ‘best behaved’ I will take care of their uniform. Those are things that are in the pipeline as incentives.”
Clarke already has 30 children waiting for the programme to commence.
“The reaction that I’ve received has surpassed my expectation,” he said. “I have had a couple of kids calling me asking me when we are going to start… I didn’t expect this type of reaction in just about a day or two.”
Persons who are interested in being a part of the programme will be required to pay a minimal fee of $20,000 to cover the cost of the sessions as well as training gears such as football shoes.
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