This week has seen young players from across 12 countries learn about different cultures and even languages while being put through their paces.

Two players who have stood out when it comes to breaking barriers at the Academy are 16 year-olds, Te’vahn Tyrell from Bermuda and Juan Checa from Panama. While going through their training exercises on the first day, the coaches noticed that they were able to interact and communicate with each other despite the obvious language barrier.

When asked how he thought he would be able to interact with his teammates who spoke a different language, Juan had this to say; “Before going to the Academy, I was concerned because I do not speak English. But when I got there, I realised that the coaches and my Academy teammates were very helpful, so it has been a great experience for me so far.” Tyrell was a bit more optimistic in his expectations, saying; “Well, I didn’t think I would have a problem because for me, football is all the same language, and once we are on the field as players, we would be able to work around it.”

When asked how challenging it was playing with his teammates at the Academy, Juan said; “I was nervous when I came to the Academy. However, I realised that my teammates were there to support me and so they made it easier for me to play with them – regardless of what language they spoke or what country they were from.”

For Tyrell, however, it took some time for him to fully adjust to new players and coaching styles, he said; “Even though I planned to bring my ’A-game’ to the Academy, I realised that I did not come with enough intensity, especially when I saw the level of skill among the other players.”

When asked how hard it was playing together on the field, Juan said he had little problems interacting with Te’vahn because they used hand signals which were effective in helping him understand what they needed to do. For Te’vahn, communicating with Juan on the field was not difficult, saying; “Back in Bermuda, I am known for being a very expressive player on the field – using my body language and hands a lot. I knew that he [Juan] didn’t speak English, so I used different hand signals to show him what the coaches wanted us to do. And, he is a very good player so he caught on quickly to what I was saying.”

Describing their experience at the Academy, both players say that it is life-changing for them. For Checa, it is the first time that he is participating in a football training programme of this kind and for Te’vahn, the Academy is an important step in his quest to improve his game and a chance for him to see what is required to develop his skills to play at a professional level.

Chelsea FC Foundation coach, Kane Cowburn, praised Juan and Te’vahn as young ambassadors for their countries, saying; “It has been a brilliant experience for me seeing the players interact on the field. Coming into the Academy, I knew that it would be a challenge to get the players to come together and get to know each other given the different cultures and languages, but to see such teamwork and camaraderie happen from the first day of training was indeed a humbling experience. Not only have they been able to play well on the field, but they have also become good friends in the process – one of the many positive effects of the programme.”

The Digicel Kick Start Clinics programme is a once in a lifetime opportunity for the thousands of aspiring young footballers. These players are not only taught skills and technical ability but also an ethos of professionalism and a good attitude – critical attributes of successful people in all walks of life. Now in their sixth year, the Clinics saw thousands of aspiring young footballers from across 11 countries in the Caribbean and Central America try out for their chance to travel to the Digicel Academy. During the Clinics, the best players from each country trained under the coaches in the hope of being one of the top four chosen by them to go to the Digicel Academy in Barbados to represent their country.

During the week-long Digicel Academy, the top 39 boys from across the region get the chance of a lifetime to receive intensive training under coaches from Barclays Premier League side, Chelsea Football Club.

 Press release Digicel

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