Once again the Free Kick Foundation staged another successful College Football Showcase over the weekend at the Daren Sammy Cricket Ground. All that remains to be see is whether or not St Lucians made the grade in hopes of getting a US university scholarship.
Coaches from the US arrived last week and were introduced to the media at a press conference, at the St Lucia Football Association headquarters at La Clery.
Special guests included Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Youth Development and Sports, Donovan Williams; CEO of the Free Kick Foundation, Aaron King; St Lucia Football Association Project Officer Evastus Augustin, Free Directors which included Francis Daniel, along with coaches from the United States.
Commenting on the Free Kick Foundation, King who is the architect said: “Usually when I get the opportunity to talk about the Free King Foundation and what we are trying to accomplish here, I like to keep it really brief because I want the work we are doing to speak for itself. This is our second year doing this and we were able to get 20 kids out last year.”
Besides their football skills, King was more impressed with what the student athletes were able to accomplish academically during their first semester at school.
He said: “It’s a tremendous achievement and for me, it fills me with pride and I know everybody on my team is excited about the fact we have great student athletes and kids who are really contributing to their universities. With that said, I just want our work to continue. We just want the kids to go out there and represent us well and contribute to programs, and when you guys [coaches] are done with them, you can say this was a great kid or this was a great student athlete.”
King went on to thank several sponsors including individuals who wrote personal cheques. He made special mention of the Ministry of Youth Development and Sports and in particular Permanent Secretary Williams and the St Lucia Football Association who he said “have been instrumental from day one.”
For his part, Williams thanked King for acknowledging the SLFA and the ministry and said: “It takes entities outside of government to initiate things and to cause government to come on board and partner. I think this particular initiative is one such example. When you get an organization that is able to mobilize, organize, coordinate and actually implement in the manner that Free Kick Foundation has, then it is a lot easier for us to jump on board.”
He praised the Free Kick Foundation for the leadership shown in this particular endeavor and remarked: “I think it has propelled us forward in ways perhaps we would not have, had it not been there. A second showcase event is really recognition that the first was successful and therefore we should celebrate that. It’s a recognition that the model and partnerships that have been created works.”
In closing, Williams mentioned that government is fully committed to this initiative and encouraged partnerships to continue and urged more and more persons to get on board.
Over the weekend at the College Football Showcase attended by 56 St Lucian student athletes along with 15 from Dominica, Daniel was especially pleased with the way things went. Before student athletes stepped on the field over the weekend there was a symposium which included parents, coaches and students.
Referring to it Daniels said: “I thought some of the things we overlooked last year were addressed. Generally I think the student athletes are better prepared and informed as to what the expectations are in terms of being a student athlete.”
The weekend’s College Football Showcase at the Daren Sammy Cricket Ground was dedicated to time drills, small sided games for males and females, various passing drills and 11 aside games.
Based on what transpired over the weekend Daniel said: “I think we have a bunch of really talented kids here both locally and those from Dominica. The coaches are going to have a very, very difficult time trying to figure out who they can take. That’s good, it’s not that there is a shortage of talent, we have a good cadre of talented people here applying their trade.”