The BICO-sponsored National Sports Council’s Primary Schools Football Competition commenced today at Blenheim, St Michael with a record 76 teams entered, 11 of which are private schools.
Co-ordinator for the tournament Adrian Donovan said the interest in the tournament has been growing over the years and the NSC was very pleased with the turnout this year.
“This is the largest number we have had in the history of the competition with five new teams returning to the competition. Interestingly enough, eleven teams are private schools which are the most we have had in a long time. The interest among the private schools has really increased over the last couple of years,” he said.
Donovan told Barbados TODAY that with the growing interest in football at the primary level, the NSC would be looking to keep the young footballers’ interest through special programmes which the council has in place.
“We try to do our best to keep the players interested in football and at the end of the competition we would be selecting the best fifty players from the entire competition and put them in a special group where they receive specialized training from our coaches. They would be invited as a group to go into our annual summer camp, so it is a continuous process. Then they would go into the under-13 development squad and eventually they go over to the Barbados Football Association where they are selected to represent the national teams at the under-15, under-17 or senior team. This is how we keep the kids with the most potential interested and together,” Donavon said.
The coordinator said they were hoping conditions would improve in terms of the weather and have some rain to dampen the outfield in order for the players to have the best playing conditions. He also thanked BICO for their continuous support over the years and especially now in these hard economic times.
Sales manager of BICO, Randy Harris, said his company felt great to be associated with the development of young people and sponsoring the tournament was one way they were achieving this.
Over 341 games will be played throughout the competition which will be divided into eight zones. The top two teams will advance to the next round.
Defending champions Wilkie Cumberbatch will have their work cut out for them against the likes of former four-time champions St Gabriel’s Primary and last year’s losing finalist West Terrace Primary. Several of the schools have taken on coaches to work along with their regular physical education teachers.