Digicel Centre of Excellence closes for summer with gala performance

By BVI Football Association

Digicel Centre of Excellence 2016 participants. Photo: BVIFA

Digicel Centre of Excellence 2016 participants. Photo: BVIFA

The participants of the Digicel Centre of Excellence from both Virgin Gorda and Tortola, put on a gala performance in front of coaches, peers, family and friends on Saturday at the Millicent Mercer Playing Field in Baughers Bay as the programme closed for summer.

The various age groups from Under 7’s right through to Under 17’s, Boys and Girls, showed off their newly honed technical skills and teamwork tactical plays in small sided games and each was viewed with appreciation from all those braving the hot sun.

Head coach of the Virgin Gorda Centre of Excellence, Thomas Albert, was very enthused by what he saw on the day and also from what he seen over the course of the programme this year.  “20 – 25 kids have come out on a regular basis and I have seen a lot of progress, even more so today, when I see the players I have worked with doing so well with their Tortola counterparts. The support of Digicel has been great as have the efforts of all the coaches and parents. Together we can show the world what having Digicel as Sponsors means to the F.A. and how they are supporting our youths.”

In the years to come, Albert believes that those with responsibility for selecting national teams are going to have a lot of problems. “In the next two to three years there will be a lot of talented players out there. The Under 13’s, especially are looking very good and even though the girls are now in a separate programme in preparation for a regional tournament, they too are getting better and better.”

Albert also believes that as more and more girls are becoming interested in playing and are also improving technically, it is time to plan separate leagues for them. “The Women’s League has created a pathway all the way from grassroots to the top levels of senior national teams and we have looked at the U9’s and U13’s and how to get them playing competitive leagues amongst themselves, to further improve the standards. I believe we can do it and, with the support of Digicel in the Centre of Excellence, have already seen increased participation and interest.”

The Digicel Centre of Excellence has already produced dividends at U13 level, when a team came back from a tournament in St Maarten, unbeaten but in third place, following a penalty shoot out loss and still the best performance of any team the Association had sent previously.

As F.A. President, Andy Bickerton explained to the participants as he thanked Digicel for its support of the Centre, the next focus is on U17 Boys. “We are delighted to have Digicel on board and today the boys and girls were able to showcase the progress being made with constant high level coaching. What was also important was that the U17 boys were here and they are off to a CONCACAF Championship Qualifier in Suriname at the end of July. They are a good example to the younger players as to what can be experienced and achieved through playing football. Peers are very important to help develop and encourage youngsters in any sport and that’s why I wanted to make sure the U17 were recognized and the younger ones who go to the same schools and live in the same areas realize that the opportunity of flying off to tournaments is there for all of them one day.”

Mr. Bickerton also commented that there was much to look forward to in Football with the new stadium getting closer and closer and how important the relationship is with Digicel. “The importance of the partnership with Digicel is obvious today and they should feel proud of what they are helping to create with the development of our youths. When we start playing on the Astro in East End, things will get even better, as the surface will enable the youths to get even better technically and we hope the partnership with Digicel will be a long term one.”

BVIFA Launch 2016 Digicel Centre of Excellence

Photo courtesy of BVIFA

Photo courtesy of BVIFA


A rain swept Saturday did little to deter hundreds of boys and girls from coming out to the A.O. Shirley Ground on Saturday 23rd April, 2016, as the F.A. launched the Digicel Centre of Excellence.

“This Centre of Excellence is designed to give all the Youths selected a safe and happy environment in which to learn and is designed to provide you with a place to showcase your talents, whilst developing new skills” commented Avanell Morton, F.A. Executive Member responsible for Youth Development.

On behalf of Digicel, Katasha Melville, who was on hand to deliver the branded shirts for the players, stated “Digicel is always behind sports and it’s great to have all the boys and girls here to be given such an excellent opportunity to improve their skills”.

Angelique Kanhai, who was in the Territory visiting the new Stadium site encouraged the Youngsters to carry on working hard “I see you are all very dedicated to come out in this rain and weather, and I’m looking forward to seeing how you all perform if selected for the National Teams”.

F.A. President, Mr. Andy Bickerton concluded the brief ceremony with thanks to Digicel as well as explaining how the Centre of Excellence fits into the development process. “It’s great to have the support of Digicel for this programme, as everyone knows we have over 1000 young people participating in our after schools programme and this is another stage in our player pathway from Grassroots to National Representative teams. The Association is very committed to looking after our youths and create opportunities for you all.”

The Digicel Centre of Excellence will continue every Saturday for Boys and Girls both from Tortola and Virgin Gorda.