By Neto Baptiste
It has been just two weeks since the start of the All Stars Elite Summer Football Camp and organisers are already reporting progress amongst the participants.
Former national footballer and coach, Mervyn Richards, one of the main figures behind the camp designed to identify and groom potential national players, said that although the 13 to 15 participants they get on a consistent basis is a far cry from the numbers they had anticipated in the beginning, there has been significant progress over the past two or three weeks.
“We played a little practice game on Friday, and against the opponents they looked far superior to the other team. They actually gave the team 11-0 but it is not something that I am bragging about, but what I saw in the game is what we were looking for in terms of them being a little more confident on the ball and to communicate more,” he said.
“Even though it was supposed to have been an all stars camp and we wanted elite players, I can rest assured that these players who came to the camp, not as all stars, but I am pretty sure they will leave as all stars when they’re finished; and what I am hearing now apparently, is that for the next week, school may be out so I am looking forward for the numbers to increase,” he added.
Richards revealed however that some players are restricted in terms of the amount of time they are able to dedicate to training as a number of them also have responsibilities outside of school and playing the game.
“We’ve had 13 to 14 guys coming out, and then sometimes you don’t have that amount because, for some reason or another, the kids don’t have it as easy as others so some try to do a little work on their own to try to get a little money to get school shoes for the next term, and so on, so you would understand some of them missing a day or two, and these are some of the things that we have to deal with. I just wish we had the resources or the sponsorship at least to give these kids what they want, so that at least they could be accessible to the practice,” he said.
As former president of the Antigua and Barbuda Football Association (ABFA), Richards is hoping that its president, Everton Gonsalves, will make good on a promise to assist with the $200 camp fee for some participants.
“They [ABFA] had promised to sponsor 20, and even if we don’t have that amount of players coming yet, I think that once that is out there and they keep their promise, I am pretty sure that some of the kids would be pretty happy that someone would sponsor them, and they have no fear but just to get to the practice for the days that we have. Maybe, because I haven’t gone back to them, but I would expect that if this is a collaboration between us and the ABFA that at least they would try to find out how are we doing and what else can they do,” he said.
Sessions run from 9:00 am to 12:00 noon daily at the Police Recreation Grounds.
They will end in late August.