By Morissa Lindsay
The Barbados Soccer Academy (BSA) is on a mission to constantly provide professional contracts and academic scholarships for its players, says director Jabez ‘Jack’ Bovell, who announced that a group of 30 players will depart Barbados in December to compete.
Bovell said both of the BSA Under-17 and 19 teams will travel to compete from December 14th to 20th in the IMG Boys’ Cup scheduled to take place in Sarasota, Florida, and they will therefore use the opportunity to secure more scholarship opportunities for the players.
During an interview with Barbados TODAY, Bovell explained that they used the ongoing Barbados Football Association Republic Cup men’s competition to prepare the youngsters. They were knocked out during the round of 16 by University of the West Indies Blackbirds but Bovell stated he is proud of his players for reaching that far while noting that all of the players except three were under the age of 21.
“The objective of taking these guys overseas is to provide opportunity for them and at the Barbados Soccer Academy we see local football as preparing these boys for overseas competitions. Yes, our Under-19 team made it to the final round of 16 with only three players that were older than 21 playing so I felt satisfied with the way they performed.
“Our recent tour to Canada we saw opportunities where Barbadian players can get international scholarships to Universities. Soccer Academy has already started to target some of the Universities where the players have submitted their relevant documentation and hopefully that would be another door open for them,” Bovell said.
The largest registered club in local football, BSA boasts of providing 45 football and academic scholarships to date for players and wants to further increase those numbers, Bovell shared, as they hope to obtain sponsorship while continuing their customary fundraising drives.
“We are hoping to go through a lot of fund-raising drives and hopefully some of our faithful partners will come on board. From the trip last year four of the players that travelled, two have gone to study now at Shaw University, they are Tanas Thorne and Lamar Caitlin. There is also Jaiden Miller who has gone to Essex County College on scholarship and there is another player expected to leave in January.
“We are hoping to take some of the boys to a one-day camp while in Florida and also play against a couple Universities and Academies. This is all about developing our players because again we use the local competitions to assist in preparing them. I must also say that the Barbados Soccer Academy is a place of development for upward mobility, not just the club that plays football.
“I believe in development and trying to give these players opportunity to secure professional contracts or a first degree, a masters or PHD. There are two of the guys doing doctorates right now overseas, so we are using football for our upward mobility. We are using football as a tool or a vehicle for our upward mobility and if there is one fellow out of a hundred thousand that will get a solid professional contract, then let it be so,” Bovell explained.
Bovell noted that over the years they have sent players overseas on trials and will continue to do so. “We want to offer our players the best and people believe we do not offer our players professional contracts but we have taken players to Houston Dynamo major league and AC Milan for trials. In 1995 I sent five players to Europe on trials such as Albert Mapp, Wayne Forde and Ryan Ramsey. But now to play in Europe you must be a citizen to get a professional contract in Europe.”
Bovell added: “Yes, we try to use different angles to create all opportunities where we can provide for our players and the Barbados Soccer Academy has been successful in doing so because our strategic objective is to get 20 scholarships per year because as it stands we are the largest club in Barbados.”