Malta and PFJL launch elite under-17 football programme Loop Jamaica

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From left: Daniel Walker of Arnett Gardens, Demario Francis of Waterhouse, Jodi-Ann Campbell, brand manager for Malta, Owen Hill, CEO of Professional Football Jamaica Ltd, Kevin Hall of Harbour View, and Jeaquan Campbell of Portmore United pose for a photo during the launch of the Malta elite youth development programme at the UWI-JFF Captain Horace Burrell Center of Excellence on Wednesday, May 8, 2023.

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The Professional Football Jamaica Limited (PFJL) has forged a partnership with Malta to introduce an elite under-17 development football programme aimed at fostering young talent and fueling a deeper passion for the sport while embodying the essence of Jamaican spirit.

The programme seeks to establish a trajectory for budding athletes to advance into local, international, or regional clubs and academies. The announcement was unveiled on Wednesday during the formal media launch at the JFF Captain Horace Burrell Center of Excellence at The University of the West Indies.

Owen Hill, CEO of PFJL, conveyed enthusiasm for the potential of the elite under-17 development football programme, stating, “We are excited about the elite under-17 development football programme prospects and look forward to developing our local talent and, by extension, allowing the players to be globally adaptable. To our partner Malta, we salute you for stepping up to the plate, believing in us and most importantly, believing in our youth. The team at Professional Football Jamaica Limited promises you that we will make this programme worth your while.”

Through this programme, clubs will have the opportunity to participate using their best junior players between the ages of 15 to 17 and will involve four Premier League Clubs: Arnett Gardens, Waterhouse, Portmore United, and Harbour View. PFJL, in collaboration with these clubs, will administer three football festivals where teams will compete in an equitable format to determine the champions on the day. The games will follow traditional football competition rules and will be hosted over three consecutive months, starting on May 25 and ending on July 27, where the teams will compete against each other.

The programme aims to take a multifaceted approach by not only developing the technical skills and abilities of Jamaica’s youth footballers but also strengthen the local capacity for elite youth coaches through mandatory coaching education and football education. Coaches are required to be enrolled in a B Licensed programme or higher to ensure that players are trained effectively. Moreover, individual clubs and player development plans will be implemented with structured coaching education.

“We are happy to partner with Professional Football Jamaica Limited for the launch of the elite under-17 development football programme, which is a part of our pilot programme, Malta Sparks,” expressed Malta brand manager, Jodi-Ann Campbell. “Through this campaign, we aim to bring local caregivers together, energize them, celebrate with them, strengthen their bonds within the community, and foster a profound sense of belonging. In collaboration with PFJL, we have a lineup of impactful workshops led by experts to equip players and their parents/guardians with the essential tools to improve their personal and social development skills. We look forward to the success stories and opportunities that will unfold for the talented young footballers participating in the elite under-17 development football programme.”

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