The Jamaican High Commission in collaboration with African World Football and the Atlanta Youth Soccer Association hosted three Football Development Clinics from 2-5 April 2012, at two Primary Schools in Mpumalanga and a High School in Soweto, South Africa.
The clinics are a continuation of the High Commission and African World Football’s support to the development programmes of formerly disadvantaged schools in South Africa. The first clinic was held at the Sinethjhdu Primary School in 2010 during South Africa’s hosting of the FIFA World Cup. The High Commission has enjoyed a relationship with the School which has represented Jamaica in the past five stagings (2007 – 2011) of the annual Latin American and Caribbean Championships.
This year’s clinics form part of the High Commission’s programme of activities to celebrate Jamaica’s 50th anniversary of Independence in South Africa, with a focus on deepening the spirit of bilateral co-operation and friendship between the two countries.
The clinics were conducted by a Jamaican soccer coach, Mr Brian Stoddart who is the director of coaching for the Atlanta Youth Soccer Association and co-founder of the Africa World Football.
Mr. Stoddart expressed great pleasure at having the opportunity to contribute to development in South Africa and the African continent, on this occasion through two school communities in Mpumalanga and Soweto. “I am thankful to be able to return to South Africa, and am especially appreciative for the Jamaica High Commission affording me the opportunity to again work with the youth of this great country. I strongly believe that continuity is the major axis to the success of any program large or small, and look forward to continuing to grow and nurture this relationship. Within all my interactions here, it is extremely satisfying to experience the quality of mutual love and respect that is shared between the South African and Jamaican people. While this longstanding bond dates back to the era of South Africa's struggle against apartheid, it continues to grow more substantial through the continued cooperation that programs such as this represent. Again, I thank everyone involved in helping to bring this endeavour into fruition”, said Stoddart
For their part, the schools were grateful for the assistance given noting that it would serve to encourage the youth to excel not only in sports but also in their education. Principal of the Sinetjhudu l, Mr MJ Modiba thanked the High Commission for its continued support of the School, and highlighted the significance of the consistent support that a small developing country such as Jamaica had so readily provided. Speaking at the opening of the clinics, Jamaican High Commissioner to South Africa, HE Norma Taylor Roberts, also underscored the important role sports played in the academic development of the students as well as in character-building. “Although you may not win all the time, the important thing is to give of your best”, said the High Commissioner in a special address to the students.
The three schools were presented with a gift of technical training equipment prior to the start of the clinic during which the school’s squads (approximately 45 pupils) were put through their paces. The African World Football representatives expressed the hope that the programme will develop into a long term partnership and the High Commission made a commitment to continue working with the school to support its development programme.