Shaw banking on corporate support for KSAFA/Valeo Football Academy

Saturday, January 12, 2019

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The Kingston and St Andrew Football Association (KSAFA) continued to set the pace for other football associations in Jamaica when they launched a new football academy on Tuesday.

In a ceremony held at Scotiabank Sports Club, KSAFA formally announced the start of their new academy which will be operated by them and the Valeo Academy, whose president is Emileo Williams.

A delighted KSAFA President Wayne Shaw was excited about the formal commencement of the project, which is a major part of his mandate.

“When I just started (as president) that was one of the things I wanted to focus on, youth, because I have always said I don't think we are getting to a next World Cup unless we start investing in our youth, and I am very pleased about this partnership.”

Shaw thanked all the persons who were integral in the discussions that led to the formation of the academy.

“I want to say thanks to Chris James and Mark McDonald, who have engaged Emelio Williams from Valeo. I hope within the next five to six years we will be seeing players plying their trade in the USA and Portugal because of this venture.”

The functioning of an academy of this nature will no doubt require serious financial backing, but the career banker is certain that both he and his team will find ways to raise the funds to ensure success of the academy and, by extension, football in the country.

“Rudi Page will be partnering with us, trying to raise funds from England. He likes the idea, he likes what we are doing, and I think corporate Jamaica will come on board for something like this.

“This is something that is meaningful and once it involves youth I know corporate Jamaica will partner with us,” he opined.

The academy will begin operations fully starting today, but before that KSAFA and Valeo ran a pilot late last year to get a feel of what was to come, and this has led to a lot of optimism being expressed by Shaw.

“They start from 10 years old but we started a pilot in October with players from eight years old, up to 15. We did it for two months and the response from the clubs has been good so far, and we will be resuming this Saturday at the Barbican football club. The club presidents and coaches are with us and I think this is going to be a success.”

Shaw insisted that the academy experience would be open to all who have the skill sets to matriculate, despite it being “club-centred” at the moment.

“We don't want to leave anyone out. It is really a KSAFA club initiative so we are going to have to sit down and find ways, of how we can get them (non-affiliated players) involved, just like how we got the academies involved in our Under-10 competition. It is something for the youth; it is really Kingston and St Andrew. So we are going to sit down and engage these parents and guardians and see how we can get these kids involved also,” he assured.

After an encouraging pilot project, the KSAFA top brass is now looking forward to a full-scale operation.

“It was successful. We didn't get enough kids because it was in the Manning Cup season and it was coming near to the Christmas season. But they got enough and Mr Williams and his partners were pleased with what they saw and they liked the quality and the skill of the players, so it is encouraging.”

The ultimate aim of the academy is to provide players for the Reggae Boyz pool in the nation's quest to return to another FIFA World Cup.

“We are hoping that out of this we get some young footballers representing the country, representing the Reggae Boyz, as we push the thrust to the 2026 (World Cup).”

Only time will tell if other associations will make an effort similar to what KSAFA is doing or more.

— Dwayne Richards

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