Some of the best teenage footballers in the Caribbean are in Jamaica this week trying to impress youth coaches from Premiership club Chelsea.
It is the latest Digicel Kickstart Academy, in its eighth year, and four Cayman footballers are in Kingston, as well as players from 12 other countries.
Chelsea youth coaches came to Cayman in April to assess the best players, and Zachary Scott, Kameron D’Hue, Tevin Crawford and Jiffon Robinson got the dream trip to Sabina Park. Scott is already really well known to Chelsea because he is at their Foundation school in the U.K.
This clinic is not so much a talent-spotting session as more of a way for sponsors Digicel and Chelsea to pass on tips to improve overall standards – and maybe get players a scholarship.
Chelsea’s international director David Monk said that Scott has settled in well with Chelsea FC’s Foundation.
“Zach is doing fantastic,” Monk said. “He is doing really well and keeping up his academics.”
Monk added that the players will take part in a variety of sessions to improve their game this week, including playing in a tournament for their country, and the winning team will face Jamaica’s Under-16s on Saturday.
On Sunday there will be two awards for the best performing players, and the players themselves will vote for who was the best.
The most impressive players, Monk said, may get a chance to try out at the University of West Indies and American colleges.
Paulo Ferreira, former Chelsea fullback who won every club trophy with the Blues in his nine years there, including the Champions League in 2012, is at the academy as the club’s ambassador.
Monk said that Ferreira has been a “great ambassador” for Chelsea.
“Paulo is a lovely guy,” he said. “We took him to see the Manchester United-Chelsea game on Sunday at Usain Bolt’s sports bar, Tracks & Records. There were far more United fans there, but the tide is turning.”
Ferreira said, “It’s a real thrill for me to be in Jamaica for the Digicel Kickstart Academy and to meet some of the best young footballers in the region.
“I hope that I can help the academy footballers to realize their potential by sharing some of my experiences.”