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Future footballers enhance life skills

Thursday, December 19, 2013
Manchester United coaches Kevin Ward, left, and Eamon Mulvey, right, with the MVPs of the Atlantic football and life skills development camp Shevica Persaud, from second left, Chrissy Mitchell, Tyrique Sutherland and Trent Weekes.

T&T’s top boy and girl primary school footballers got a chance of a lifetime recently, learning to master new skills in the game under the guidance of Manchester United coaches Eamon Mulvey and Kevin Ward, and also receiving inspirational words from Olympic sailor and Atlantic sports ambassador Andrew Lewis.


The youngsters were participating in the Atlantic football and life skills development camp, which was held from December 13-15, to expose them to youth football training on an international level and also to life skills seminars conducted by local psychology consultants Dolly and Associates. The camp’s life management sessions included such topics as interpersonal skills, etiquette training, conflict resolution and balancing school life and sports 


The annual camp is held at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Mucurapo and aims to develop the football skills of the top 50 players in the Atlantic National Primary Schools Football League. Participants are selected from all eight educational districts. 


Lead coach Mulvey, an experienced skills development coach with Manchester United’s coaching team for nine years, said that the four-year-old camp sponsored by Atlantic was successful because it did not focus solely on football skills, but also dealt with the children’s behavioral competences. 


“At the beginning, the kids were shy and a bit apprehensive. As time passed, they became more interactive and involved,” coach Mulvey said. “This programme is a really good one as it incorporates all these important elements: football, life skills, motivational talks, one on one coaching. It was just three days, but in such a short time, we have seen great improvement in their footballing and behavioral skills.” 


Derek Daniel, Manager, Branding and Communications manager, Atlantic praised the young footballers’ dedication. 


“They approached the exercises and demonstrated their discipline, and showed the evidence that many of them will be among the next generation of Trinidad and Tobago’s footballers,” Daniel said. “Atlantic remains committed to creating these opportunities for emerging sporting talent to develop and shine.” 


Lewis spoke to the youngsters about his experiences in sailing for the 2012 Olympics and about the need to balance success in sports with a focus on academics and other areas of life. 


“You should always stay positive,” Lewis told the young footballers in his inspirational feature address. 


“Key things I want you to note and remember are train hard, stay focused, stay positive, practice, be respectful to others and to yourself, and dream, work hard and persevere.” 


The camp’s closing prize-giving event was held on Monday at the Digicel IMAX cinema, and included presentation of certificates to all participants and trophies to the four most valuable players (MVPs) Shervica Persaud (Pentecostal Light Ministries) and Chrissy Mitchell (Mayaro RC) in the Under-15 Girls category; and Trent Weekes (Tunapuna Boys’ RC) and Tyrique Sutherland (Tunapuna Boys’ RC) in the U-11 Boys division. 


Mitchell, who along with Tyrique Sutherland was named overall MVP, explained that the camp provided many lessons, including the importance of such character qualities as discipline and obedience. 


“I was able to learn a lot at the camp,” Mitchell said. “I made new friends and the Manchester United coaches were amazing. It was really a wonderful experience overall as I was able to learn so many new things and have fun at the same time.” 


As an additional component to this year’s camp, coaches Mulvey and Ward also conducted a special training session for 25 primary school football coaches. 


This seminar was held on Tuesday, and supplemented the training which the coaches had received in the Atlantic Coaching Excellence (ACE) certification programme held earlier this year. 


Developed by Atlantic in partnership with the National Primary Schools Leagues for cricket and football, the ACE programme supports the long-term development of these sports by increasing the number of certified primary school coaches in T&T. 


In the near future, only primary schools with certified coaches will be allowed to participate in the annual cricket and football competitions sponsored by Atlantic. 


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