The Institute of Sports (INSPORTS) has received $60 million from telecommunications company LIME, to assist in the staging of the all-island primary league football competition.
The three-year sponsorship arrangement commences this year, with the competition slated to begin later this month. Scheduled to be held over six months, the tournament will bring together teams from more than 200 primary schools to compete for a national championship.
The competition will follow the Jamaica Football Federation approved FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) Grassroots format, which allows for full gender participation, unlimited substitutions, smaller playing fields and goals, and teams of nine players.
Speaking at the launch today (January 20) at the Terra Nova Hotel in Kingston, Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, Hon. Olivia Grange, said the tournament, which is one of the biggest age-group sporting competitions in Jamaica, will create a more effective and organised platform for the development and advancement of youth football. She lauded the move to include both genders.
The Sports Minister boasted that Jamaica is the first country among the Caribbean islands to implement the FIFA Grassroots programme and to undertake a league of this magnitude.
Chairman, LIME Jamaica, Chris Dehring, said sport is an excellent avenue for youth development and the promotion of values such as team work and dedication.
He said the competition will have a significant impact on youngsters, whose talents will be spotted from the earliest onset so that they can be trained to become professional players.
“This is an incredible opportunity to develop our youngsters in sports, develop them as holistic adults, develop their personalities and the discipline that is needed to compete…we plan to make it an exciting tournament for these youngsters. We want it to be a tournament of discipline,” he stated.
Special Advisor to the Minister of Education, Robert Miller, encouraged the youngsters to participate in the competition and develop their talents while improving their education.
“Being a good athlete can help you to get a good education. Many Jamaicans have (received) scholarships to study both overseas and locally because of their good talents. The education these athletes will get, will serve them…by helping them to navigate the challenges that will arise doing their careers,” he said.
The all-island primary league football competition will involve a preliminary round robin followed by a knock out round of 16 comprising the top team from each parish and Portmore, and the lucky team that wins a wild card draw.
LIME’s allocation will finance the procurement of football gear for participating teams and equipment for the match venues including the fabrication of smaller goal posts, which are now the standard for all under-13 football games.
The company will also be funding a technical development programme for the young players and off match and referee fees, venue preparation, as well as other administrative costs.
CONTACT: CHRIS PATTERSON