Mayor of Montego Bay, Councillor Charles Sinclair, has expressed delight and great anticipation for the development of football in western Jamaica, with the official launch of the Real Madrid Football School for Social Integration in the city.
“This project reflects a type of rebirth of football development in this part of Jamaica. To have the youngsters being developed at this stage and getting the skills of football, getting to know the game and the rules of the game, will stand us in good stead in the overall development process,” Mayor Sinclair told JIS News.
Internationally acclaimed former Real Madrid striker, Emilio Butragueno, was assisted by Minister of Water and Housing, Dr. Horace Chang, who is also MP for North West St. James, to cut the ribbon to signal the official launch of the facility.
The launch took place on land neighbouring the Wyndham Rose Hall Resort. About 150 young football enthusiasts, as well as representatives of the Montego Bay business and hotel communities and representatives of the Spanish Jamaica Foundation participated.
Minister of Water and Housing, Dr. Horace Chang,(centre) who is also Member of Parliament for North West St. James, conversing with Montego Bay busuinessman Mark Kerr-Jarrett and his wife, Paula, during the official launch of the Real Madrid Football School for Social Integration in Rose Hall, St. James on Tuesday (May 27).
Mayor Sinclair stressed that the youngsters must be guided to understand that education is key, and that physical sports can only take them so far, hence they will have to pay attention to their school work.
“We, at the St. James Parish Council, give our support to this worthwhile project and have given a 50 per cent waiver of the building and development fees that will go towards the substantive project,” the Mayor declared.
He noted that the current location is temporary, and assured the audience that when the permanent facility is established the Council, and the parish of St. James, will continue to show support.
President of the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF), Captain Horace Burrell, extended commendations to the Real Madrid Foundation for making the investment in the youths of Jamaica.
“On behalf of the football fraternity in Jamaica, let me tell you that it is indeed an honour to have your club, and the country of Spain, partnering with the Jamaican football fraternity in establishing what has been done here,” Captain Burrell said.
“I can assure you that coming out of this very important initiative, you are going to find a number of young Reggae Boyz emerging and playing for various institutions. I, therefore, urge all you boys and girls to make use of this very important opportunity, as it will help you all realise your dreams in football,” the JFF head concluded.
Mr. Butragueno said that he was pleased to be participating in the ceremony, which will result in hundreds of young people being guided to becoming ‘human beings with specific values’.
“We of the Real Madrid Foundation strongly believe that this is the best way of giving back to society, and we are happy about this project,” Mr. Butragueno told JIS News.
“We haven’t come here to look for the new Christiano Ronaldo; that is not the big deal. The big deal is to have a relationship with Jamaica and try to help young people and, through football, we believe that we can help them,” he added.
He revealed that the Foundation currently has similar projects in 15 other countries, and will be establishing and maintaining direct and permanent contact with the project in Jamaica.
The proposed football school, modelled on Real Madrid Foundation’s network of schools for social integration, will target young people in underprivileged situations, and will transcend purely sport education, training youngsters through solidarity, community and social service, to ensure that they will be able to cope in different aspects of their daily lives and improve short-term education prospects.