The Digicel 2013 Kick Start Football Academy has received high praise from Minister of Culture, Sports, and Youth, Stephen Lashley, who regards it as ???a model for any sports development initiative???.

The Minister, who was at the time delivering remarks during a press briefing to officially launch the one-week Academy, noted that it was ???in keeping with the role of sports in youth development as articulated in the National Youth Policy???.

Mr. Lashley further pointed out that sport had made a significant contribution to national development and may be viewed as much more than recreation

???As a tool in the activation of social policy, sport builds social and human capital; social inclusion and cohesion. A sport that epitomises this more than any other is football??? After all, football is played in every community in Barbados and can claim the interest of every strata in society, including the blocks.

???My Ministry, as part of its Youth Development Programme, utilises football to bring [positive messages] to the ???block culture?????? What has been discovered by our Youth Commissioners on the ground, is that football is the sport of interest in our communities and is a channel through which sensitisation can take place on a myriad of social issues including HIV/AIDS. It also creates a forum in which leadership skills can be taught and team spirit built,??? the Sports Minister explained.

Alluding to the economic component of sports, he pointed out that the tourism sector would benefit from the contributions of the sporting industry. He, therefore, issued a call for all the relevant agencies to work together to maximise those benefits.

??????Sport provides a promotional activity for that sector leading to what is known as Sports Tourism. This is where sporting activity is economically beneficial with respect to spend directly or indirectly on things such as hotel accommodation, meals and transportation to name a few areas… Persons are coming into Barbados to participate in this Academy, that is, in essence sports tourism,??? Minister Lashley affirmed.

The Digicel Kick Start Football Academy is being held at Kensington Oval this week, and will involve coaches from Barclays Premier League side, Chelsea Football Club, providing intensive training to 39 boys from across the region.

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