Digicel providing opportunity to showcase young talent
- 2nd Annual Nationwide Tournament weeks away from kickoff
By Rawle Welch
Last year witnessed what was undoubtedly the most exciting programme to have emerged in junior football for over two decades, the staging of the inaugural Digicel Nationwide Schools Tournament which was played over the length and breadth of Guyana.
Digicel, a cellular phone company that first surfaced in Guyana over 5 years ago, has been one of the leading corporate institutions in the support for athletes and the development of sports locally and many within the communities that the tournament was played showered understandable praise on the Company for its foresight in presenting the opportunity for aspiring players to showcase their talent to a wider audience.
The tournament despite its infancy has already been responsible for providing local coaches and scouts with the chance to spot raw and natural talent which previously was predominantly restricted to Region 4 and 10, but thanks to Digicel, they now have the luxury to identify and select players from as far as Lethem, Waramadong, Mahdia, Berbice, Essequibo Coast and other far flung areas that usually suffers neglect and starved of publicity.
Digicel, known as the bigger, better network, was able during that competition to create the avenue that provided adequate publicity for the country’s young, promising ball weavers and speaking with many of them, they generally agreed that the event was a welcomed one and deserved commendation.
Now, this year’s tournament is just a few weeks before kickoff and already the buzz about the event has been reverberating throughout the country with teams readying themselves to take advantage of the glorious opportunity that it presents for young players to be highlighted over the month long duration of the competition.
The advantages are comprehensive because apart from player exposure, teams get to zigzag across the country and all this leads to the exchange of information of the various traditions within our nation, while participants also have the chance to improve their geographical familiarity.
All this is done in one package and kudos must be given to Digicel for its wisdom in creating such a tournament which has also been able to validate their continuous support for the development of sport.
One of the exciting features of this year’s competition is the fact that unlike last year when there was no age barrier pertaining to the eligibility of players, this one stipulates that players must be under the age of 18 years.
This new change was implemented after it was felt that some institutions (especially the Technical and Vocational ones) had a decisive advantage since a lot of their players were over the age of 18 years and had already begun playing in senior competitions locally thereby making it difficult for schools (i.e Secondary) to progress far into the tournament.
After studying complaints made from various schools about the disadvantages they faced, the Organisers in their own review made a decision to exclude players 18 years and above so that all participating schools would start on level ground to a great extent.
Over one hundred schools are expected to participate in the competition and if one should go by the standard exhibited last year, then current Technical Director of the ‘Golden Jaguars’ Jamal Shabazz and all the other coaches have an excellent opportunity to get an early glimpse of the future stars in the sport, thanks to Digicel.