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BFA Regional Programmes Off and Running

After the successful conclusion of the Y League season in February, youth football development continued with the commencement of the annual Regional Soccer Centre in New Providence. This programme, which serves as a precursor for the prestigious BFA National Academy in the summer, sees the best players from all clubs in each of the represented categories nominated by their clubs for trials to the Regional programme. Only 22 players in each age category are selected, so clubs were encouraged to only nominate the cream of the crop from within their system to the trials for the four divisions for boys (U-9, U-11, U-13, and U-15) and three divisons for girls (U-11, U-13, and U-15). With improvments made to the organization and administration of programmes such as this on an annual basis, thsi year's Regional Academy got off to its best ever start.

The popularity of the programme is such that it is oversubscribed, and this year, the developments made at the U-9 level were easy to see. Over 70 children were nominated to this age category, for which the appointd coaches had to narrow down to 22 over two weeks. Not an easy task, but certainly one that shows the growth in interest. The technical developments were also easily recognized, so much that some of the players who had been selected last year for this programme were not this year, so fierce was the competition. At the end of the trial period, however 22 players in each of the categories were selected and are now being p ut through a rigorous training programme by the respective coaches. The players not selected, however, were encouraged to continue their individual development, as nominations alone gave an indication as to their potential. Meeting weekly at the BFA National Centre for Football Development in the Bailou Hills Sporting Complex, the various groups train daily, all with the goal to continue the ascenion of Bahamian football in the region. The original version of this programme, when conducted at Hanes Oval and Fort Charlotte in 2000 saw some familiar faces in our national game, when Happy Hall, Dwayne Whylly, Cameron Hepple, Alex Vanderpool-Wallace, Demont Mitchell and others were participants. All are now members of the Bahamas Mens National Team which recently competed, and qualified for the second round, in the FIFA World Cup 2010 SOuth Africa qualifications.

Falling under the genral direction of BFA Technical Director Neider Dos Santos, and overseen by former National team player and coach Wilson Bain, the Regional Soccer Centre got underway March 10, 2008. Trials were conducted for the various age groups for the first two weeks and the programme commenced its training and development March 31, 2008, the week after the Bahamas defeated the British Virgin Islands in World Cup Qualifiers. Appointed coaches to the programme were given direction on the technical aspects of the programme by BFA Technical Director Neider Dos Santos, who was on hand for the commencement of the trial period. The coaches appointed, according to BFA General Secretary Lionel Haven met the criteria for the role as being "capable, able and willing" to lead respective groups. Youth coaches from within the Y league and National Coaches compromise the list of respected coaches for this programme and to date, the effectiveness of their methodology has proven highly successful. Paul Winder (Tambearly School) and Christian Villi (FC Nassau) direct the U-9 boys, Ian Hutchinson (Bahamas U-15 National Coach) leads the U-11 Boys while Daria Adderley (Cavalier FC) leads the U-11 girls. Michael Hooper (Western Warriors) directs the U-13 boys and Vandyke Bethel (Bahamas Womens National Coach) directs the U-13 girls. Hutchinson also directs the U-15 and Bethel doubles up with the U-15 girls, with the various groups meeting different days at the BFA National Centre for Football Development.

As mentioned, the programme has been proven to play a major role in the development of Bahamian football and our national teams, as is evidenced by the fact thart the majority of national team players at all levels at some point came through this programme. With continued development and growth, and advancement in the technical administration, this programme will continue to be a guiding light that leads the way to better football in the Bahamas.