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Richards: Football association on board, elite camp to move forward as joint initiative

By Neto Baptiste 

The principals of the All Stars Summer Football Camp, formerly the Rising Sun Summer Football Camp, have received the blessings of the Antigua and Barbuda Football Association (ABFA) with the body expected to provide some much needed assistance geared towards making the new initiative a success.

This is according to one of the main characters behind the camp for elite players and former national coach, Mervyn Richards, who said the FA has pledged to do a number of things which include use of the Paynters facility. 

“The most important thing would be the use of the development center from 9 am to 12 noon on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays and we outlined to them, the programme. The age range is between 14 and 18 years old and what we will do is have a trial from the 28 of June to the 2nd of July where we will assess these players and depending on the numbers we will select 40 players,” he said. 

“A fee of $200 will be [charged] to help us with the cost because we want to have a physiotherapist, a trainer coach and of course we will need a number of coaches. The association also pledge they will get a couple of coaches to assist us,” he added. 

Richards, a former national midfielder, explained that the $200 fee will cover a number of other aspects of the camp he hopes will benefit the participants. 

“We will bring in speakers, people to speak about fitness, health and people who have been in the professional area and knows what it takes to get from where they [the players] are to the next stage where they can be prepared for any sort of opportunities so there is a cost that will be involved,” he said. 

In May, Richards said he was slated to meet with the FA’s president, Everton Gonsalves, in an effort to bring the sport’s governing body on board as their involvement would be critical to the success of the programme. He said the meeting was a success. 

“We had a very successful meeting with the president and he pledged his full support behind the project and we took the time also to reminisce on some of our playing days in terms of some of the glory and failures we had, so I would say it was a very good meeting. Following up with the general secretary [Rowan Hector], we were asked to send in, by letter, the extent of the assistance we needed from them,” he said.  

In a previous interview, Richards said the initiative was born out of a need to develop homegrown talent. The former player believes that with meaningful development, the heavy demand on overseas-based players could be reduced. 

The idea, he added, is to maintain a list of players who would have come through their elite programme and track their progress in hopes of allowing them first preference for national and or club duties ahead of an imported player. 

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

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