Eight talented young footballers will get another chance to impress at Premierhship club Sunderland.
The Digicel Kick Start Clinics concluded at the St. Kitts Marriott on Saturday with the selection of one Kittitian youth for football trials with Sunderland.
Kieron Phillip was the lucky youth from St Kitts who was selected to receive the opportunity to travel to England.
Also selected for the opportunity were Diquan Adamson (Barbados), Esso Amichy (Haiti), Omar Holness and Paul Wilson (both Jamaica), Ruiz Dillon-Fromoredio and Bruce Julianto-Diporedjo (both Suriname) and Ryan Frederick from Trinidad.
New Tranmere Rovers manager John Barnes was the selector who travelled to six Caribbean countries over the past six weeks for Digicel. He said that all of the youths, average age 16, selected were of ‘comparable talent’ with each other and their overseas counterparts.
‘These are international class player who are of the same quality as their British counterparts,’ he said.
Barnes noted that he was not in the Caribbean to teach the youths how to play football, but offer them an opportunity to better themselves while also raising the world’s perception of football in the Caribbean.
‘I have been stressing to the boys, discipline, desire, dedication and organisation; that is all we need here in the Caribbean to reach the next level.
‘As much as it is an opportunity for them to go on to trials, it is more importantly an opportunity to show that the boys in the Caribbean have the quality to be professional footballers.’
Lionel Haven, Executive Member of the Caribbean Football Union, was also on hand for the occasion and he had similar words of encouragement for the youths.
‘We extend you our congratulations on this achievement. This is the start of your journey to greatness. We want you to know too, that everything you do reflects upon us and we expect you to go on to do us proud.’
Haven also praised Digicel for their commitment to football throughout the Caribbean.
‘The Digicel Kick Start programme provided an opportunity for more than 150 young footballers from six countries to receive coaching from John Barnes. Beyond those players directly impacted, countless others would have been inspired by the partnership between Digicel and Sunderland FC.
‘What this shows is that Digicel is serving to inspire young footballers in the Caribbean to aspire for bigger and better opportunities.’
During the ceremony, St. Kitts-Nevis Football Association President Anthony Johnson thanked Barnes for being a ‘pioneer’ for African-Caribbean footballers and continuing to ‘give back to the sport in a meaningful way’.
Following their two-week trial period with Sunderland, the eight selected boys may have an opportunity to receive scholarships and possibly get contracts.