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THE HASELY Crawford Stadium in Mucurapo will be the venue for the 2011 Digicel Kick Start Academy, which will culminate six weeks of the Digicel Kick Start Clinics throughout the Caribbean, North and Central America region.

The Kick Start Academy will be launched today at the Aura Restaurant, Cipriani Boulevard, Port-of-Spain, but the on-field action will run from tomorrow until Saturday.

And the closing ceremony will be held on Sunday afternoon at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Mucurapo.

A total of 37 aspiring young footballers will attend the Academy, made up from the original Digicel Kick Start Clinics winners, along with boys chosen in Antigua and Trinidad through separate selection processes.

Throughout the week, the boys will train extensively under Sunderland’s “Academy of Light” coaches, Kevin Ball and Carlton Fairweather, as well as ex-Liverpool and England great John Barnes, and will also be treated to cultural and educational outings.

The once-in-a-lifetime experience will see the youngsters train as professional footballers for a week, and will also teach them invaluable life skills such as personal discipline, teamwork and good sportsmanship.

Speaking of his hopes for the Digicel Academy, Fairweather commented: “it’s a huge honour for me personally and of course, for Sunderland Football Club, to be playing a part in the ongoing development of football across the Caribbean and Central America. We are looking forward to working with this talented group of youngsters and seeing just how far they can go.”

In addition, the Digicel Academy will also host “coach the coaches” sessions, with one local football association coach from each region travelling to receive training and tips from the world class Sunderland coaches, with an aim to improve their own standard of coaching upon returning home.

The Digicel Kick Start Clinics officially began on September 18 in Haiti, before travelling on to Panama, New York, St Kitts/Nevis, Grenada, Suriname and Jamaica.

In related news, on Saturday morning, the Hot Shot competition will be staged at the Queen’s Park Savannah, Port-of-Spain, opposite Casuals Corner. The Hot Shot contest is a skills-based shooting event with participants gaining points for shots netted through a cover over the goal.