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Jul 9, 2015

Smart Holds Annual Football Summer Camp

Move over, Deon McCaulay! There is a group of boys getting ready to take over that striker position with the Jaguars. Well, not just yet, but they are well on their way there. Today News Five joined a bunch of eager and skilled children at the MCC for their football camp which comes to a close on Friday. If you don’t know what the future of football looks like for Belize, then you might just want to watch and listen to the kids Andrea Polanco met at the Smart Stars Camp today. 

 

Andrea Polanco, Reporting

Meet the Smart Stars. These youngsters are a part of a group of ninety-six, who spent the past two weeks in camp sharpening their football skills.

 

Michael Bradley, 12 years old

“I learn how to pass the ball, dribble, technical skills and definitely respect to myself and others.”

 

Michael Bradley

Andrea Polanco

“What position you play?”

 

Michael Bradley

“Defense.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“What’s one of the most exciting things about being out here in camp? Is it meeting friends? Is it playing football? What’s the one thing that you like the most?”

 

Michael Bradley

“Playing football.”

 

Ryan Usher

Ryan Usher, 10 years old

“It is really exciting because I get to make new friends and I enjoy the sport I play.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“Do you hope to play football professionally?”

 

Ryan Usher

“Yes.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“And is there anyone on Belize’s national team that you want to be like and play like?”

Ryan Usher

“Deon McCaulay.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“What. Tell me why?”

 

Ryan Usher

“Because he got really great skills in dribbling and shooting the ball.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“So, we can expect to see you on the national team in a couple of years?”

 

Ryan Usher

“Yes.”

 

It’s because of children like these that veteran baller Stanley Reneau has put together a star-studded coaching team with hopes to groom these young footballers to become skilled players at the national level.

 

Stanley Reneau

Stanley Reneau, Head Coordinator, Smart Stars Summer Camp

“In this camp we have five groups. Myself, I head the goalkeeper part. So, definitely we have some Shane. Vallan Symms is one of the instructors, Kaya Cattouse, Shinelle Gentle and Anthony Bernard. So, definitely, there are some Deon McCualays and Jarrett in it. Jarrett Jordan who is the MVP for this year top league and he was a part of our camp growing up too.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“Would you say that the future of football is very bright in Belize- from these kids?”

 

Stanley Reneau

“Definite. Definite. Our future is very bright. With the Jaguars moving up to the third round, the kids are happy and they want to move up too.”

 

The camp started some fifteen years ago, but for the past four years Smart has thrown its support behind this home grown initiative that seeks to empower the children.

 

Linette Canto

Linette Canto, Marketing Manager, Smart

“These kids come from a variety of households throughout the Belize City community and the basic idea of the camp, apart from teaching them discipline, team work and all the other elements and they have been very receptive and for the past four years I can say that we have definitely been successful in our endeavor.”

 

And the camp is a success for Brendan Bulwer and Kristi Mai. They get to do two things that they love—football and meet friends.

 

Brendan Bulwer, 11 years old

“To come spend time with friends before I go away and learn more about the game to play better.”

 

Brendan Bulwer

Andrea Polanco

“Is football a sport that you like?”

 

Brendan Bulwer

“Yes ma’am it’s my favorite.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“Tell us why it’s your favorite?”

 

Brendan Bulwer

“I like it because it’s fun to me and it’s just something that came to me when I was young. It doesn’t really matter. I usually play mid-field or I can play defense.”

 

Kristi Mai

Kristi Mai, 9 years old

“I am playing on the five to eight team.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“Do you have friends on the team?”

 

Kristi Mai

“Yes, miss.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“Talk to me about what’s exciting about you being out here?”

 

Kristi Mai

“I am excited because I am meeting friends and I am learning how to pass the ball.”

 

While it may seem small in scale, the impacts of these grassroots initiatives go a long way.

 

Linette Canto

“It is definitely important because it is part of our mandate to develop our community through our involvement and support of sporting activities. Why I say it is rewarding is because some of these children when they start they are shy and reserved but as they go along you see them develop more confidence and they become more secure in themselves and develop more skills. So, at the end of the day we are developing the children and in a sense the community at large.”

 

Reporting for News Five, I am Andrea Polanco.

 

The children were recognized with trophies and certificates. 

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