By Morissa Lindsay
National defender Jaiden Miller is the toast of the Barbados Soccer Academy (BSA) as he has become the 45th scholarship recipient of that club and will head off to Newark, New Jersey, to pursue his studies in Business and Sports Management at Essex County College.
The talented 21-year-old who has so far represented Barbados at the Under-15, 17 and 20 age groups, got the opportunity to meet with the Minister of Youth, Sports and Community Empowerment Charles Griffith today at his Sky Mall Headquarter in Haggatt Hall, St. Michael.
During the meet and greet, Minister Griffith congratulated Miller on his scholarship and reminded him that he is an ambassador for Barbados and therefore must ensure he makes a good impression which would then pave the way for other young Barbadian footballers to follow.
He also cautioned the young man. “Note that what you had here as training will look like child’s play when you get over there, so you need to be prepared for a totally different ball game in terms of training.”
According to Griffith, the Ministry of Sports is working towards getting more athletes off the island and providing them with opportunities to study and train overseas just like Miller who hails from the Bayland, St Michael which has produced several outstanding national athletes.
“What we are trying to do is get as many of our athletes off island for training and education with the hope that at some point you would come back and strengthen the national team as well because for those who go overseas you function at a totally different level. So, it is expected that when you come back you would play a part in the setup of the national team.“We are hoping to get a whole range of persons off the island, to this extent we have set up the SAT programme here… But the truth is we need to get more athletes off the island and I want to also thank the soccer academy for what they are doing as it relates to football and getting a lot of our youngsters scholarships and moving them to the next level,” Griffith explained.
He added: “It is really and truly one of the ways that we would strengthen the different disciplines – football, basketball, volleyball – if we could get persons off the island. And you would be one of our ambassadors, so we would expect that when you go there, by your training and discipline that you make the way for others who would follow after you. If you go and you are really good in terms of discipline then wherever you are going (other countries) will see Barbados as a place where you could come and look for more talent.”
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Community Empowerment, Yolande Howard, noted they will seek to assist the BSA as much as they can and also encouraged Miller not to see his scholarship as just one step but rather the first of many opportunities ahead for his future.
“This should not be seen as just one step, there are a number of steps to take to get you to where you need to be and where you should be because obviously, you have the potential to excel as a footballer and also in other areas as well. So, I wish you all the best, be positive at all times, be disciplined and make sure you are focused on everything you have to do,” Howard said.
A former student of the St. Leonard’s Boys School which is a hub for producing some of the very best football talent on the island led by national Under-17 coach Fabian Massiah, Miller stated that through this scholarship opportunity he hopes to gain his education, take his football further and make his country proud.
Not forgetting those that helped him along the way, Miller thanked the Barbados Soccer Academy Director, Jabez ‘Jack’ Bovell as well as coaches Massiah and Greg Castagne at Pro Shottas Club and his parents Janelle Miller and Donovan Reid.
As someone who enjoys playing centre-back and being able to stop attackers from scoring, Miller expressed how elated it felt to join his former schoolmate and talented national goalkeeper Nashton Brown as one of those who also gained a scholarship through the BSA.
Head of BSA, Bovell, recently accompanied over 35 players to a three-week camp in Canada and said the tour has been beneficial and made special mention of the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc director Peter
Mayers who he said helped to make the trip a success.
Bovell explained that he and his team at BSA are working diligently to provide job opportunities for BSA members and has partnered with businesses in Canada
to ensure that players who have their degrees and are seeking employment can be catered for.
He also indicated that the BSA continues to produce well-rounded student-athletes and has produced 200 players that attended the University of the West Indies Cave Hill Campus over the last 15 years. [email protected]