Former national youth players revive Shipwreck league

Midfielder Akeem “Little Sam” Grant (right) and utility player Troy “Darrie” Mellanson in studio at Observer Radio. (Observer media photo)
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By Neto Baptiste

Two former national youth footballers who would have benefited from playing in the once popular Shipwreck Youth Football League at the King George V Ground, have launched a similar type programme at the same venue in hopes of giving young players an avenue through which to hone their skills.

Midfielder Akeem “Little Sam” Grant and utility player Troy “Darrie” Mellanson, both still active players in the country top division, are currently running a scaled down version of the Shipwreck league and currently host 12 Under-15 teams at the venue every Saturday for matches.

Grant explained that the effort started after he noticed that many of the children who frequented the field to play during the afternoons were unsupervised and in need of vital equipment.

“I was walking through the park a couple of months ago and I saw them playing and saw that they didn’t even have on any socks, so I said ‘let me go to Cool & Smooth’. So, big up to Cool & Smooth and I got some bibs for them so they could play 11 vs 11. When we were playing Shipwreck league we were cladded from head to toe in the Empire jersey and Darrie was more Goldsmitty but they were well taken care of also and so I thought, why not just start a league for the kids,” he said. 

Since then, Grant said it has turned into a community effort with support pouring in from both businesses and individuals within the area.

“We have some nice teams down there and nice support from the community as well because it is more community based, and we provide them with water and Gatorade, so it’s just feel-good vibes. It’s more for the inner-city children like around the town area and because of the Covid times and all of the stress we don’t want them to be doing anything out of the way, so we thought let’s get them to kick a ball and relax their mind,” he said. 

Meanwhile, Mellanson said his first task was to ensure that a team from his community was involved in the competition while ensuring the general effort was well supported.

“The first thing I did was organise my team from my area so we have a team from Browne’s Avenue, Ottos area; so what I do is just organize to try and get sponsors [for the league] and try to promote the league and take it to a different level. This is our first year but as we go on we are going to develop it into not just Shipwreck league but we are going to take it and brand it into not only a scholarship programme but also preparing students for college,” he said.

Matches in the league, which caters for players in the 15 and under age category, are played every Saturday at the King George the V Ground.

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