By Neto Baptiste
Young footballers across Antigua stands to benefit from a donation of gear and equipment from the US-based Mass Athlete Performance (MAP) organisation.
The donation, which was made through former national and Empire striker Conrad Whyte, who is an assistant coach at the Massachusetts-based Merrimack College, includes ball, shin-pads, jerseys, football boots and more, is meant to improve the football experience of the less fortunate.
Former national footballers and coaches Schyan Jeffers and Micah Samuel will be distributing the equipment here in Antigua.
Jeffers, who currently coaches the All Saints United FC in the football association’s Premier Division, explained how the gears will be distributed.
“I went through the barrels and I have about 60 pairs of boots and I plan to distribute them across three communities. Gray’s Farm in which everybody knows that Gray’s Farm is a talented community and we have a lot of under-privileged down there and the same thing goes down there and the same thing goes for All Saints which is a big community as well. I-Jaba [Urdle Codrington] is doing some work in Sea View Farm and I know he needs the help because I’ve passed by a couple of time and I saw him training some kids and I definitely know he needs the help so I am going to lend a helping hand to him as well,” he said.
Jeffers credited Whyte with making the initiative a reality, explaining that the MAP group also spearheads a number talent identification camps which have placed a number of young players into suitable colleges.
“They reached out to me via Conrad and this is how everything works because I went up there [USA] via Conrad and he had links with the MAP and every year they had ID camps for teenagers who are just leaving high school and trying to get into college. So, a lot of the coaches go on these ID camps [and] if I want to go to Jojo’s college and Jojo is on that poster, then I am going to find myself registering for that ID camp so that Jojo could see me. A guy by the name of Lee Cooper is the sole owner of everything and Conrad is the main man, so this is how everything started,” the former utility player said.
Samuel, who is the head coach of the Jennings FC, said Whyte has always been one to support the development and growth of football in Antigua.
“I have to say thank you to Boast Whyte because from time to time he usually sends down some football items like boots, balls and stuff, so this is not the first package we are receiving. He has been doing this for a number of years; even if he does not really deal with the scholarship side of things, he is actually working,” he said.
“He and I were discussing the possibilities of acquiring scholarships for youngsters in Antigua and Barbuda, but he was thinking that he does not want to put his name on the line because when I bring a player over he has to be the real deal, so I don’t want to bring a player who doesn’t have the educational background, the discipline and the football skills to go along with it,” he added. Distribution of the gears and equipment were slated to commence this week throughout the identified communities.