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Youth football takes centre stage


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Chief Executive Officer of the Professional Football of Jamaica Limited (PFJL), Owen Hill, believes the launch of the Under-17 Development Programme will help to improve the island’s standing at the grassroots level of football.

“It’s important as this is a culmination of many different stakeholder engagements, and it’s an opportune time now. We know the level of talent existing at the grassroots level, and we would want to build on that.

“Having Malta step up and ensuring that we have a pilot programme running, augurs well for football development in the country,” Hill explained.

The Under-17 Development Programme, sponsored by Malta, was launched yesterday at the UWI/JFF Captain Horace Burrell Centre of Excellence.

According to Hill, the four teams participating in the pilot programme are Jamaica Premier League (JPL) outfits Arnett Gardens, Waterhouse, Portmore United and Harbour View. He said organisers wanted all the 14 teams that played in the JPL to be involved in the competition but had constraints.

“All 14 teams from the Premier League were put in a pool and were randomly selected. No team got any preference. The truth is we would have wanted all 14 teams to have participated, however, the teams that were selected, luckily for us, are all strong in their youth development programme, so it made an easy merger,” he added.

Clyde Jureidini, general manager of Harbour View, stated that the initiative will benefit the growth of youth football in Jamaica.

“It’s a good opportunity to open up more senior-aged development. FIFA has changed gears and now the focus is shining on the under-17s. The KSAFA (Kingston and St Andrew Football Association) under-17 is scheduled to start this weekend and run for about six to eight weeks. The JFF also has an under-17 programme at the end of this month.

“It’s good that the three are coming on stream, and we hope that they are coordinating, and it is spread throughout, not only the parishes but across the island,” Juriedini stated.

The PFJL, with the clubs, will administer three one-day football festivals set to begin on May 25.

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