The Mount Zion House of Refuge Children’s Home in Linstead, St Catherine, was surprised with a donation of $100,000 on the closing day of the inaugural staging of the programme dubbed Football With A Twist.
The five-week programme, which ran from July 8 to August 12, taught children discipline and other valuable traits through football.
A total of 56 children – boys and girls from four to 12 years old – participated.
One of them, Tsahai Clarke, told The Beacon that her summer was well spent as the initiative was also educational.
“It is very nice to just come out here and to play football. A lot of people have been wanting to be in a programme – and this is a very good programme,” she added.
Founder of the initiative, Wayne Clarke, flew in from the United States where he now lives to witness his brainchild taking shape in his native town of Linstead.
According to Clarke, who once played football for McGrath High School, a number of the children have proven to be talented.
He is hopeful that the programme will help to groom the youngsters to become confident and to play for their communities and eventually at the national and international levels.
“The training went a far way; a lot of these kids are technically gifted. It’s great for me to get these kids and get them on the forefront where others could see them…” Clarke explained. “I am looking for leaders out of this programme.”
Football With A Twist was scheduled to end with fun activities and an awards ceremony on Friday, August 12. However, heavy rainfall forced its postponement until three days later.
On the new date, the children, decked out in jerseys and football shoes, were eager to soak up the fun, including frolicking in bouncing castle and other inflatables.
They also were presented with certificates of participation, school bags and stationery, book vouchers, tablets and laptop computers, and various other gifts.
The participant adjudged the most outstanding player, Kenniel McDermoth, was among children presented with special awards.
Jameil Hamilton was declared as having the best team spirit. Kyce Clacken was adjudged the best defender, Azario Brooks the most punctual, Shamario Wray and Shavan Walker the most improved, and Omar Bailey the most disciplined.
The organizers of the initiative, in the meantime, donated $100,000 to Mount Zion House of Refuge Children’s Home.
That facility’s students also got a book voucher valued at $20,000 from Mark Demetrius, General Manager of Dixon’s Drug Store in Linstead.
Gerald and Friends also joined in, donating a $20,000 book voucher to Omar Bailey.
A number of parents and guardians were among the people who showed up to watch the proceedings.
One of them, Smantha Taylor, in an interview with The Beacon, lauded the Football With A Twist project.
The coaches who were involved also underscored the relevance of the programme.
“This programme is important because it allows kids to come and have fun as well as learn the game. It also help them to avoid some things as, because of lack of activity, some may take up guns and all those other stuff. So this programme helps them to avoid those things,” said Domonique Fisher, one of the coaches.
Another of them, Oniel Dalbert, noted the importance of starting to teach the children football at an early stage.
“This programme puts a youth in a starting position of his career, teach him more things about football, discipline and how to advance his skills and profession in the football world. It is a very important programme because it start from dem young, between nine and 12 years old,” he said.
Based on the positive feedback, as well as his passion for serving his community and its children, Clarke intends to host the programme again next year.
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