Real Madrid-styled academy expected by next January
Posted by Dresonic on June 28, 2007
A football academy to benefit underprivileged children on the north coast should become operational by January 2008, following Tuesday’s signing of a declaration of intent between the Spanish-Jamaica Foundation and representatives of Spanish champions Real Madrid at the Rose Hall Complex.
According to Jesus Silva, Spain’s Ambassador to Jamaica who is also president of the Spanish-Jamaica Foundation – formed by the Spanish groups currently investing in Jamaica – the first phase of the proposed academy, which is being modelled on the Real Madrid Foundation’s Schools for Social Integration, is estimated to cost US$500,000.
“There is no problem of financial support for this project. I mean, the Spanish companies represented on the board have expressed a commitment to do it and they are willing and ready to finance it,” Silva said at a press conference at the Spanish Embassy offices at the Courtleigh Corporate Centre in New Kingston yesterday.
He said that figure for the first phase of the project, which includes two pitches, classrooms, changing rooms, offices and parking facilities, could be increased if needed.
“It could be less, could be more and of course, if we have other partners that want to join it… the figure might be even higher, because the more partners we have the bigger we can go and the better we can do the installations,” Silva said, adding that his organisation has tentatively budgeted US$100,000 to run the project for the first year.
The academy, which is being erected on land donated by Michelle Rollins and is to be managed by former national goalkeeper Aaron Lawrence, will cater to youngsters between the ages of 7 and 20.
Lawrence said youngsters wishing to join the academy must be averaging at least 50 per cent in their schoolwork.
“So it (the academy) will always be something for them (youngsters) to look at and to do well in school,” the former Reggae Boy explained.
Between 100-150 youngsters from St James, Trelawny, Westmoreland and Hanover are expected to enrol in the programme in the initial phase, with plans for an increase to approximately 350 in the medium to long term.
Lawrence is scheduled to travel to Spain in September to get first-hand knowledge of how Real Madrid operates their football academies.
According to Carlos Aballa, director general of the Real Madrid Foundation who arrived in the island on Sunday, along with former Madrid midfielder Manuel Velazquez, “The academy will transcend purely sports education, extending to social integration, training the youngsters through solidarity, community and social service to ensure they will be able to cope in different aspect of their daily lives and improve short-term job prospects.”
Arbella also said Jamaica is the first non-Spanish speaking country to benefit from the Real Madrid Foundation, which has established Social Integration Schools in Chile, Bolivia, El Salvador, Panama, Argentina, Mexico and Uruguay.
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