KSAFA President Wayne Shaw presents a shirt to Cassandra Reid of Benders FC, one of the academies taking part in the KSAFA/Valeo Youth Football Development League, which begins on Saturday. (Photo: Dr. Wayne Richards)
The highly anticipated and highly anticipated KSAFA/Valeo Youth Football Development League kicks off this Saturday at the UWI-JFF Captain Horace Burrell Center of Excellence from 8:00am.
The 10-week development league will cater to three age groups – Under-13s, Under-15s and Under-17s – for the first stage, with hopes of adding further age groups. age next year.
The brainchild of Emilio Williams, the president of the Valeo Academy, the competition was supposed to start in 2020 but was derailed by COVID-19. Things are now on track and fifteen teams, including KSAFA clubs and academies as well as Manchester’s Los Perfectos, will participate over the next ten weeks.
Williams, who is very committed to youth development, couldn’t contain his excitement at the prospect of the league finally getting underway.
“We are delighted to return to play. We hope this will revive Jamaica’s qualification hopes. Our goal is to return to the World Cup in 2028.”
Williams will provide materials and equipment to each player participating in the competition.
“This development does not happen in a vacuum, it has to be holistic. The kids will have full match and coaching equipment, pennies, balls, cones – things to run a session – and coach education will be part of that.
“Each fully participating club will receive 50 sets of equipment including socks, shorts, jerseys, shin guards and ball bags.”
He also explained that there is a long term plan for the development league.
“It’s a multi-year plan. This is just the beginning. We’re starting with three age groups right now, but our goal is to add the Under 10s in the fall and the Under 19s next spring.
“The objective is to play 6 to 9 months of club football; you play a game every weekend and you train 2-3 times a week.
President of KSAFA, Wayne Shaw was happy that football was returning to youth level in his confederation.
“For two years we haven’t played any football at KSAFA. We are coming back with the KSAFA/Valeo Youth Development League.
“There are not only KSAFA teams, there are academies, and we have Los Perfectos de Mandeville who will participate,” he explained.
Shaw said the goal of the KSAFA/Valeo league was mainly developmental and so he asked the coaches of the various teams to give all players the opportunity to participate.
“It’s a development league. It’s not about winning, it’s about engaging the players. We don’t play football enough in Jamaica we just have competitions for maybe 8-12 weeks so this development league we start with 10 weeks initially but the plan is that for next year it will last 6 months, getting players to play more football.
“I told the coaches it was not about winning. You don’t play star players every game; you have to play against everyone, including those on the bench, because that’s the only way to develop everyone.
Matches will start with the Under-13s early in the morning, before the Under-15s start mid-morning and the Under-17s mid-afternoon.