Sport

Holy Family lift inaugural Concacaf NextPlay Cup

...Stakeholders happy with grassroots activation and its potential to shape lives

BY SEAN A WILLIAMS
Deputy Sport Editor

Sunday, December 09, 2018

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Holy Family Primary School from the tough inner-city community of Southside in Central Kingston emerged champions of the inaugural Scotiabank Concacaf NextPlay Cup when they defeated Emmanuel Christian Academy 2-1 in the final at Anthony Spaulding Sports Complex yesterday.

In the third-place play-off, Rousseau Primary edged Portsmouth Primary 1-0.

Holy Family booked their spot in the final with a slim 1-0 win over Rousseau Primary to maintain their perfect win record, while Emmanuel Christian Academy were convincing 3-1 victors over Portsmouth Primary.

For lifting the NextPlay Cup, the Holy Family team will be heading to Chicago next year to watch the Concacaf Gold Cup final.

Concacaf football ambassador Ricardo “Bibi” Gardner was all smiles at the end of an exciting day of competition, which started with the quarter-final matches, ending four weekends of competition that started with 56 primary schools from across the island.

“It is a great feeling to see the youngsters having fun, especially at this age, and they are getting a great opportunity, and once you get opportunities, the sky is the limit.

“It is great to see what Concacaf and Scotiabank are doing for the youngsters and it is good for them to learn the principles from now, and it is good to know Concacaf is providing opportunities like these for the kids, which will help them grow and develop as youngsters and into super stars of tomorrow,” said the former Bolton Wanderers star.

Concacaf Development Manager for the Caribbean, Andre Waugh, said it was extremely satisfying to see the kids, aged 10-11 years, having fun in a spirit of competition.

“I think it has been amazing to see the children enjoying themselves and I think that is the most important thing, and it is about them developing friendships that hopefully will last a lifetime... this competition will no doubt inspire them and will let them see that there can be a future in the game,” said the Jamaican.

He said that NextPlay, fundamentally, is another plank of Concacaf's determination to creating access to the game across all levels.

“If you understand the philosophy of NextPlay, you would know it's about providing access to the game and also, too, to provide access to the next generation — and we are talking about the players and officials, the administrators, you name it.

“We are very grateful to Charlie Smith High School, in particular, to partner with us through its Principal Anthony Garwood, a former Fifa referee, who took time out to train the young referees, who were utilised throughout the competition, and when you listen to the feedback coming from the coaches and the players, you realise that they have done well, so much so that one of them was given the final to officiate, which speaks to the confidence,” Waugh told the Jamaica Observer following a day of exciting football action in a family-like atmosphere of fun and frolic.

Charlie Smith Manning Cupper, 17-year-old goalkeeper Tushane Edwards, is the trainee referee who officiated in the final.

Scotiabank's regional director of public affairs and corporate affairs Yanique Forbes Patrick was bowled over by the electric atmosphere in the sun-drenched Trench Town community.

“I love it and I am very proud that we chose to partner with Concacaf with the NextPlay Cup because we are always going to be involved with sports at a developmental level and this is something we are strongly in... sports is a very good vehicle to teach communications and teamwork and to also teach the kids to win graciously and also to lose graciously and to teach them sportsmanship as those are very important life skills,” she noted.

Jamaica Football Federation General Secretary Dalton Wint said the NextPlay Cup has “ignited the passion” for football in Jamaica.

“It is now for us to go forward and develop on what has happened here... grassroots is the way to go if you want to create a foundation that is firm and relevant, and that's where you need to start, which is the bottom,” he noted.

Other legs of the competition have been concluded with Trinidad and Tobago and The Bahamas crowning their champions. Barbados will have its finale on Saturday.

NextPlay Cup, part of a new grassroots development activation by Concacaf, was contested by football-loving children — boys and girls aged 10-11 years old playing on the same team — from the primary school systems in Jamaica, The Bahamas, Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados.

With football as the pathway, the NextPlay programme seeks to expose both sexes to football academia and to assist the youngsters, importantly, in becoming valuable citizens armed with vital life skills.

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