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Micah Samuel

By Carlena Knight

A group of former national footballers is spearheading a new initiative which will see elite players from the various clubs and academies on island participating.

The Rising Sun Summer Football Camp, which is the brainchild of Mervyn Richards, will allow these elites the opportunity to train and learn new techniques as they craft their skills.

According to Richards, the local talent is not being harnessed and groomed correctly and, because of this, the national senior teams are being dominated more so by overseas players.

“We are concerned that Antigua’s young footballers are being sidelined from the natural progression from school football to the ABFA programme, and even the national team, but we have seen scores of invited players from overseas who continue to dominate the selection process. We fully understand and accept this but the growing number is now far past the bench mark and so we want to work alongside the ABFA in shaping these players and I think that the most important thing we can do, which is to correct it,” Richards said.

He said that now is the opportune with no competitive football being played to host a camp like this.

Micah Samuel, another organiser of the camp, echoed Richards’ sentiments and went a step further in saying that we cannot leave the development of players to just the Antigua and Barbuda Football Association (ABFA).

“It takes a village to raise a child. The football association by itself, cannot take care of all the youngsters that participate in the sport so MR [Mervyn Richards] and I, from that background, [are] willing to assist in whatever area we can to reach the destination that we think we should be in. Young, talented and locally-based footballers need to be protected and given equal opportunities. We have to protect the youngsters that participate in this great game that we love so much,” Samuel added.

The two-month camp will cater to Under-14 and Under-18 players.