Regional

Mount Pleasant Academy grants 55 scholarships to young footballers

BY RENAE DIXON
Observer staff reporter
dixonr@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, September 17, 2018

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FIFTY-five young footballers from across the country will benefit from a full scholarship to Mount Pleasant Academy in Runaway Bay, St Ann.

The academy, which aims to develop young football talent, will be ensuring that the boys ages 11 to 15 develop their skills as footballers while ensuring that their education is not compromised.

Principal Vanie Clarke said the boys will attend at a scholarship cost of approximately $4 million each, funded through charity.

The boys will live on the 88-acre property which is home to the institution, the first of its kind in Jamaica and the Caribbean. When the Jamaica Observer North & East visited the school recently, preparation was in high gear for the new school year with classes expected to start today.

The principal, teachers and the rest of the staff ensured that everything is in place for classes, housing and training when the school term officially starts.

Clarke said the aim of the school “is to provide a home for football talent in Jamaica in an environment that will allow them to develop their maximum potential, and ensure that they do not compromise their academic potential while pursing their passion for football”.

At the same time, Clarke pointed out that football in Jamaica is not at a very advanced state as in other countries.

“Jamaican football in comparison to other major football powers is a baby,” he said.

He believes Mount Pleasant, which is owned by Peter Gould, will help to change the football landscape in Jamaica since it will help to develop professional players, starting with a very impressionable group.

“A few years from now Jamaica will have young football professionals who have been exposed to football at an early age, and who will matriculate to become national players,” Clarke said.

Clarke pointed out that Mount Pleasant has been ensuring that the young footballers are exposed to the game at the international level.

Both the Under 13 and Under-15 teams went to the Cayman Islands earlier this year, while the Under-13 team visited Peru and Mexico.

“The next three years I see us being the single-most dominant institution for football in the entire Caribbean,” Clarke said.

He added that it is also the hope of the institution that the Under-13 team will compete and perform at the highest level in the Concacaf.

“We certainly want to dominate Jamaica,” Clarke stated.

He said the young boys will be learning about all aspects of the sport, and this includes playing the game, football administration and officiating.

While the academy is putting everything in place to ensure that there is growth in football at the institution and by extension Jamaica, it is also ensuring that all students are fully developed academically. Presently there are 16 teachers on staff at the institution to ensure that the boys stay exposed to the high school curriculum.

Clarke explained that the students were selected through a series of trials. Some of them are a part of the Mount Pleasant Under -13 and Under-15 football teams. He said the institution currently has two regional scouts who identify the talents of the youngsters and make recommendations to the institution.

Clarke explained that it will be an ongoing drive for recruitment and so new students will join the institution annually.

The institution is currently building three playing fields, two of which will be used for training and the other to host matches.

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