All week long and just days before the start of the new school year, local football organization FC International has been hosting its annual summer camp program in the district of North Side.
Held at the Old Man Bay Football Field since Monday, the camp has seen more than 30 young athletes work on improving their talents in the program designed to instill ball, teamwork and discipline skills.
FC International Football Camps have been hosted islandwide and in the community since 1994. The camps are free to children and help develop fundamental skills and discipline in the sport.
According to FC International’s camp technical director and coach Elbert McLean, the turnout has been good. With just over 30 kids attending the camp, open to youngsters ages 6 to 16, on its first day some 43 junior footballers gathered at the North Side field to train and learn. “And we’re going through the basics with a focus on the discipline,” said Mr. McLean.
In addition to supporting young athletes, FC International has provided training and advancement opportunities for many volunteer coaches known as “junior coaches.”
Junior coaches are usually selected from among a pool of under-17 football players who show the aptitude and respect for the sport. They are also often selected from McLean’s own football program.
Four of this summer’s 10 camp coaches on staff are coaches in training, including 16-year-old Jamal “JJ” McLean, who says the experience has been exciting.
“It was kind of difficult at the beginning,” he said, “but I started learning from other coaches from the past couple of years [and] I feel confident in myself and enjoy being a junior coach.”
“Knowing I had the ability to work with different age groups,” he said, has been the most rewarding aspect of his post.
“JJ is a junior coach but I also prepare him for the future,” said the camp’s technical director. “This summer alone, he has been excellent with the kids.”
Despite being the only two girls at camp on Wednesday, 11-year-old Esmeralda McLaughlin, and 14-year-old Trina Greenidge were thrilled to have spent time on the field before going back to school.
For Esmeralda, who will be going into Year 7, “it’s really fun attending camp.”
“My dad, Gonzalo, is a coach for Tigers FC, my brother is a football player and football is what I love to do,” said the 11-year-old.
“I can’t kick straight yet,” said Esmeralda, also a field and bat player in cricket and a wing defense player in netball. “But I try.”
With her 14-year-old brother having traveled to California to play with a Los Angeles-based club earlier this year, Trina said she joined camp primarily to “learn how to play football.”
“It’s a great sport,” said Trina, who will be entering Year 9 at John Gray High School this fall.
Both girls joked that they prefer being goalkeeper because they do not have to do much running.
Jason Kerr, 13, who also attended the George Town camp last week, has visited the island for the past three summers. He said he attended the camp in North Side because it is “a great way to interact and make friends.”
Jason, an admirer of Brazilian footballer Neymar, picked up the sport only about four years ago and is a left wing, center and defensive wing player on the field.
As for 12-year-old Jamar Barron, who joined the camp with his brothers Jaron and Jonathan, football has been his favorite sport, which he has been playing for a long time.
“Nothing really happens in North Side unless FC comes up here and puts these camps on – thanks to Mr. Kennedy,” said coach McLean, referring to FC International president Kennedy Ebanks.
“I thank God that we had no injuries and that everything went well,” said Mr. Ebanks. “We hope the rest of the camps end up the same.
“I want to thank the parents for having trust in us over the years, and I wish to thank all who helped support the program.”
For more information on the summer camps, call coach McLean at 925-7296 or FC International at 926-1993.