ONLY standing room was available when one of Saint Lucia’s most successful football academy, Valley Soccer Academy (VSA) under the theme ‘Focusing on Player Development’ recently celebrated its achievements for 2019 when it held its Awards Ceremony at 758 Book Conference Centre, Gablewoods Mall, Sunny Acres.
In addition to the VSA hierarchy that included President Francis Daniel, Saint Lucia Football Association (SLFA) Inc Technical Director – Cess Podd, Keynote speaker and former national volleyball player/ LUCELEC’s Corporate Communication Manager – Roger Joseph, athletes/ awardees, special invited guests to include parents, members of the media and master of Ceremony, Stennett Bent who kept the audience on its feet.
The proceedings got underway with the national anthem and prayers, followed by welcome remarks by Dione Benn; Year in Review by Francis Daniel; address by SLFA Technical Director – Cess Podd; awards presented in the first and second segment: Kindergarten, Under 7, 9, 11,13,15,17, Club and outstanding student athlete Junior category.
SLFA Technical Director, Cess Podd, said, “Saint Lucia National Under 17 boy’s teams have been unbeaten in two years, they haven’t lost a game. In fact they have not even drawn a game, they have won it all and because of that they are invited to this European tournament in Latvia and we are going there in May and world governing body FIFA are paying for everything as we try to expose the boys to a higher level”
“Before I came to Saint Lucia, I worked with a club call Leeds United, I worked with the Under 16s, players like Allan Smith, who went on to play for England; Johnathan Woodgate, he went on to play for Real Madrid. I am telling you now those players I worked with some of our players in our national teams, technically are as good as them, so it’s not about your ability, it’s about everything else you have to put together, your attitude is important”.
“Why I am so impressed with this? I see everything that is required for you to go further, I see parents who are passionate and supportive; I see a leader who is also the same and who goes the extra mile, spend his own money. This academy should be one of the role models as to how we want football to be ran in Saint Lucia, you have given us something to work with, not just you, there are other districts as well, but the numbers is consistent with this set up here (VSA); I want to encourage you the players to take the advantage of the opportunities that you have been given”.
Key note speaker Roger Joseph tactically dwelt on the evening theme “Focusing on Player Development” he said, “With the right mindset – learning; these few moments of your time may prove worthwhile. The Merriam Webster Dictionary: Focus – directed attention, emphasis, point of concentration; the (Oxford Learner’s Dictionary) centre of activity to give attention or effort to one particular situation, subject or person rather than another choice”.
From these two dictionaries he said, “The definition for Development – gradual betterment, the steady growth of something so that it becomes more advanced, stronger. Process! Improvement! Holistic! One big arm”.
“Focusing on Player Development is a shared responsibility – you/each individual; coaches and parents, those with authority over you. You have to focus on your development; coaches and parents too”.
Focus, choices, we can all choose – Training/Video Games. Full effort/Half-hearted. Excellence, Discipline and Perseverance.
Excellence means I choose to be better; Best I can be; Discipline means I choose to do what it takes to be better; Perseverance means I choose to never give up even when things get difficult. Never losing sight of the goal, to be better.
“Excellence, Discipline and Perseverance is in all of you. You have them, but you have to choose them”.
“Choices you make now are building blocks for who you are today. You, right now, laying the foundation for the future. Build well”.
According to Joseph, “Kobe Bryant, Talent and Work ethic choose to give his best every day. All the time. Choose to give your best. Results will take care of themselves”.
“We are responsible for our actions and attitudes, but until a person can say deeply and honestly, “I am what I am today because of the choices I made yesterday,” that person cannot say, “I choose otherwise.” – Stephen R. Covey. Own your choices. Don’t blame others”. he noted.
“You can choose right now, not older; remember, the future you, depends on the choices you make today. Choices have consequences. Good or bad. Develop these routines in your life now”.
In terms of volleyball, he said, “Setter/Hitter chose not to be on the bench. That’s what focus is, choosing to give attention to something, instead of another”.
“Development, Gradual betterment, the steady growth to become more advanced, stronger. Process! Improvement! Holistic! That requires a learning mindset. Having a teachable spirit (John Maxwell – “Sometimes You Win Sometimes You Learn”). People with a lot of talent often perform at the highest level, but the really best of the best – achieve the highest heights because they possess the spirit of learning”.
“Football, you have to improve your football skills, ball control, dribbling, passing, vision running off the ball. Your conditioning, 30 – 60 minutes more than a match. These are critical skills to be able to play the game. You have to make an intentional effort to grow, won’t happen automatically just by attending training. Want to learn. Want to work and choose to do so”.
“One of the most striking things that separate successful people from those who aren’t is the way they think. People who get ahead think differently and are constantly thinking of improving their skills set”.
“Team sport, you must learn team work by doing what’s best for the team. Focus on the development of the team. You can’t do everything. But you can do your part to the best of your ability, so the rest of the team doesn’t need to worry about your part; they can focus on doing theirs to the best of their ability”.
Picking up awards on the evening were – DyaniDorius, Ruben Harris (Kindergarten); Kai Alexander, Sion Pilgrim (U9); Shiloh John, Gordon John, Levi Steide (U11); Omarion Edwin, Sebastien, Ajani Phillip (U13); Dario Simacas, Rivaldo Charlemangne, Rawson Harris (U15); Liam Devaux, Azariah Raveneau, Nakeem Joseph (U17); Jacob Devaux, Jamaar Archibald (Club).