Youth Football League’s Junior Cup targeting next generation of players | Sports
The Youth Football League’s Junior Cup is here and will see Jamaica’s primary and preparatory schools competing in seven-versus-seven football matches over five weekends, starting October 1.
The tournament will be staged by Free Your Image (FYI) Consultancy Group, in partnership with the Institute of Sports (Insport), and the Jamaica Independent Schools Association (JISA). FYI’s wealth of expertise in staging football events in Jamaica ranges from taking the FIFA World Cup trophy to the island on the World Cup Tour, its successful staging of the Samsung Cup, and hosting the Concacaf Gold Cup in Jamaica in 2019, the first time the tournament was ever played in the Caribbean. For Paula Pinnock, FYI’s managing director, the main drive to stage this tournament is about development. She said that to grow, to improve at anything in life, in any area, in any discipline, we must start at the beginning, and so, we must start with our youths.
“We believe that the need for the YFL goes beyond just simply developing footballers, but instead, we want to develop the individual,” Pinnock said at the tournament’s official launch at Funland, Hope Gardens in St Andrew on Thursday morning.
“We want to see more players being exported, we want to see more students getting scholarships, we want to see more Jamaican-born nationals becoming Reggae Girlz, but it must start with significant change at the youth level. We can either keep talking about it, or we can get it done. I’m about getting things done.”
Insport officer Elaine Walker-Brown said that she appreciated the efforts of this tournament to foster the growth of Jamaica’s youths through football.
“I want Jamaica to understand that we all have our part to play in mentoring our children,” she said, “Remember, Jamaica is a brand. It’s not just the Reggae Girlz and the Reggae Boyz. In whatever way we can play our part in helping our youngsters to develop, once you put them on the football field, they’re going to do well, so we have to prepare them to be on the big stage.”
The competition’s 48 teams will consist of 672 players, 11 years old and younger as of September 1, 2022. They must be regular students enrolled in the upcoming academic year. Each team will register a minimum of 10 players and a maximum of 14 players, male or female, for participation.
These teams will be divided into two brackets – Kingston and Montego Bay. They will be placed in regions with four zones each, comprising both primary and preparatory schools. The top two teams will advance to the quarter-final stage of the competition, which will take an elimination format. Teams advancing from the semi-finals move unto the regional final, while the other semi-finalists will play for third place. The winners of each region then meet in a national championship while the runners-up play to determine third place.
Registration starts on August 18 and ends on September 16, with the live draw for the zones on September 22.
JISA Sports Coordinator Winston Keys said this tournament was needed.
“At this time, it doesn’t matter how much football is being played now, we’re always gonna need more for the little ones,” he said.
The Youth Football League Junior Cup is sponsored by Puma, iPrint Digital Jamaica, Insurance Company of the West Indies, JISA, The Gleaner, Insport, Sports Development Foundation, Funland Jamaica, and FYI.