The Digicel/JFF National Grassroots Programme will have its first festival on Saturday, May 12 at the Paul Bogle High School in St. Thomas beginning at 9:00am.
The JFF recently launched a national grassroots programme aimed at growing the sport and building the passion for the game. The programme targets girls and boys between the ages of 6-12. By mandate JFF parish associations responsible for the implementation of the programme are expected to include a minimum of 40% of girls.
Over the first year of the programme eighteen festivals are scheduled to be held through the length and breadth of the island.
Each day's activities will be divided into two sections. A session with grassroots coach educators drawn from the communities. In these sessions, educators will be under the direction of JFF coaches. The aim of these sessions will be mainly to discuss how to encourage this age group, how to facilitate them enjoying the game and how to organize grassroots football festivals. Coach educators must respect children’s' physical, psychological and physiological make up and need not be football coaches.
The afternoon sessions will be in the form of a festival which is structured in a way to allow for fun. The assumption is the more kids play, the more they enjoy, the more they enjoy, the more they will want to play. The more they play the more they will learn.
Registration will be an important objective at these sessions as the JFF expects to develop a database out of the activities.
Parish associations have also been mandated to forge relationships with schools and community organisations in the development of the programme. The day’s activities will end with a community event aimed even more at building the passion for the game.
THE BENEFITS OF THE GRASSROOTS APPROACH
Play is an essential need, innate in all children. Thus the main objectives of grassroots football are to introduce children to football and initiate them in the practices of football through play.
Football in small-sided games, on small pitches, addresses both of these needs. On small pitches, better suited to their physiological capacities, young footballers get more touches of the ball and learn to control and use the ball. They get more opportunities to put the ball in the goals and learn the importance of that. The coach-educator’s mission is to promote learning through play.
Play is an enjoyable way for children to learn. Play is an excellent way of developing psychomotor skills and allowing children to relax and overcome anxiety. It encourages children to take initiatives and risks and also encourages invention. Hence all the necessary skills for success will start to develop at an early age.