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MBU to spend $10m per year on academy

FORMER PREMIER League champions, Montego Bay United (MBU) FC, will be pumping $10 million annually into their Youth Academy programme.

The club, under new ownership this season, officially launched the academy during a press conference at the Itel BPO boardroom in Montego Bay, St James, yesterday.

“Our goal from age five up to 17 is to have a maximum of 150 children. The support and commentary from the community and the football world so far think that this is the best thing in many years. As we all know as watchers and supporters of sports, most of the national players came out of the west at one point in time, in more recent times. Our goal is to continue to develop that and ensure that the west has its place back in the football world. This will ensure that players don’t have to go to Clarendon, St Catherine and Kingston to be seen, but they can also do so out here in their schools in the west,” Montego Bay United FC Chairman, Yoni Epstein, told the media.

He added: “Sixty per cent of the club will have non-paying members, and the other 40 per cent are paying members. Between sponsors and the support of the paying, the academy will make up for the shortfall. This will allow us to bring individuals, who can’t afford it but have the talent and need the development as a group.”

According to head coach of the MBU Youth Programme, United Kingdom’s Sulaiman Nunes, the academy is bigger than football.

“It’s not about winning, it is about developing. Our motto is to develop the elite mentality. We are also looking to an educational programme to give these youngsters a chance to develop. If they are not going to be footballers, can they be key members of society and can we try and enhance their situation? Another part of the programme is we will be looking to send in people like myself, scouts, and coaches into schools, primary and secondary schools. Also through competitions, grassroots competitions, identifying talent and once we have identified that talent, we will be looking to develop it. We do this so we can get the players to an elite standard so we can tick off all the criteria we are looking for,” Nunes explained.

Developing technical skills, tactical skills, social skills and psychological skills are important for the programme.

“Why we start at age five is that it is reckoned by experts and sports scientists that between five and 11 is the key window of opportunity for player development. We don’t want to wait until they’re in the schoolboy system when they are 12 or 14. At that time, players have already developed bad habits. We want to develop players that can play in our first team but also players that can play in the Jamaica national team as well, really high calibre elite players,” Nunes added.

The $10 million will cover the coaching staff, the technology used to support the coaching staff, gear and other individuals coming in to assist.

According to the club’s president, Dr Germaine Spencer, the academy will operate differently from others like Mount Pleasant.

“We have invested heavily in technology and we are using a system called VEO that will give parents a report card on a term basis. Parents will have a clear objective and changes and improvement of their child,” said Spencer

“We are going to be creating structures for primary schools, prep schools, high schools in western Jamaica. We will put our coaches in to assist with different programmes and create a feeder group to complement the present school system.”

The academy is expected to welcome players on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., while on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 10 10 a.m.

Source: Jamaica Gleaner