Grand Bahama Youth Soccer Development Programme

Boys Youth Soccer Development Programme to kick off at 5pm Wednesday January 11th at Freeport Rugby Football Club

The Grand Bahama Boys Youth Soccer Development Programme resumes on Wednesday, January 11th at Freeport Rugby Football Club following the disruption arising from Hurricane Wilma. Co-coordinator Mark Hardy explained that as a result of floodlight damage at the Club, they were unable to accommodate all the youngsters in the months running up to Christmas and had to focus solely on Under 20 age group only . These repairs have now been made and the Programme is now ready to resume for all age groups (11 and under, 13 and under, 15 and under, 16 and over) with the coaches aiming to continue building on their steady progress since the Programmes inception four years ago.

The objective of the programme is to implement a framework for youth soccer on the island so that organized soccer can be played and appropriate coaching is available for all players from the age of 8 to the age of 19, at which point they become part of the GBFL programme.

The Programme aims to do this by supporting and working hand in hand with the YMCA League and Primary School and High School Competitions. We encourage all interested youngsters to play soccer at their school and participate in the YMCA soccer league. It is our intention that the Development Programme can then identify the best players at each age group and offer them additional and higher level coaching through experienced, qualified coaches.

As well as practicing on a Wednesday where their soccer skills are improved and their techniques honed, the Programme aims to arrange matches against US and other Bahamian teams and local teams and arrange tournaments. Already games have been arranged against visiting teams from the Bahamas and the US and it is hoped that all 4 age groups will either travel to Nassau or Florida for a tournament this season.

Last season proved to be a successful one with over 80 youngsters coming out on a weekly basis to participate in the programme. Highlights included:

1 Hosting teams from Abaco and the USA

2 A successful trip to Nassau by the Under 19s who stunned their New Providence rivals with two emphatic victories against their fellow counterparts

3 Involvement in the hugely successful Summer Youth Soccer Camp involving 180 participants in conjunction with the English Premier League , Freeport Rugby Football Club and their fellow Girls Youth Development Programme

4 Commencement of an Under 11 programme as a result of the large number of young players coming out

To begin with the coaches are encouraging all interested players to come out on Wednesday; however it is the intention that, within a month or so, the numbers will be pruned as the coaches select the best players in each age group. It is planned that the following 4 age groups will be coached on a weekly basis (either once or twice a week dependent on age):

11 and under, 13 and under, 15 and under, 16 and over

Programme Director Mark Hardy noted that the team of coaches wanted to take the Programme to the next level and had the following plans for the new season:

1 To continue the 4 current age groups and to include some even younger players in the 7, 8 and 9 year old age group (coaches permitting).

2 To aim that each age group hosts at least 1 team from the other Bahamian Islands or the USA whilst also trying to have each team travel to their play teams in Nassau, Abaco or the USA. Indeed, the Programme hopes to be able to announce some exciting news in this area in the forthcoming weeks

3 Help in the development by Freeport Rugby Football Club of at least 1 additional floodlit training pitch

4 To develop a framework and pathway by which young soccer players can obtain soccer scholarships in US Schools and Colleges

5 Expand the Programme to the Western End of the Island with practice sessions and matches to encourage the development of the youngsters in this hotbed of football

Fellow coach Brad Bethel added that they are aiming that the programme continues to grow but with expansion comes the problem of the need for additional resources. Primarily we need additional coaches and assistants so that we can provide the individual attention and coaching that is needed. In addition, as the Programme does not charge its participants, they are also asking the business community to support the Programme and the parents to offer a donation to the Programme. Any persons interested in helping in coaching or assisting financially can contact Mark Hardy at 357 5403 or come to Freeport Rugby Football Club from 5pm every Wednesday

Coach Husseyin Dengizer noted that he was particularly pleased that the programme, which is now in its fourth year, appears to be paying dividends. The Bahamian youngsters coming through at age 13 and 14 really have some talent and we can see the improvement compared to the boys of the same age when we first started four years ago. This is a direct result of the respective youth programmes, the increased emphasis on soccer within the school system and the Annual Soccer Summer Camp.

If you want to be part of the action or simply want to see what is going on then come to Freeport Rugby Football Club every Wednesday starting January 11th at 5pm or contact Mark Hardy at 357 5403.