Learning the game: Youngsters are put through their paces at the National Sports Centre yesterday. *Photo by Kageaki Smith
Learning the game: Youngsters are put through their paces at the National Sports Centre yesterday. *Photo by Kageaki Smith
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A Premier League scout offered a huge incentive to Bermuda’s young footballers after running the rule over the talent on show at the HSBC-Bermuda-Brazil Third Annual College Prep School Festival.

The mid-term camp, which concludes today, has seen coaches from different football backgrounds — professional, University and Prep School — take sessions and offer advice about the next stage of the youngsters’ development and the options potentially available to them.

Former Man City and Portsmouth player Carl Griffith now scouts for West Ham and works for their Academy, along with Steve Portway who was also on the island this week. Griffith was encouraged by what he saw.

“The standard we’re looking at is probably higher [than the other coaches] and probably a bit harder for the kids to achieve,” he said. “But we’re going to come back in October and bring back five of the best players for trials — if they’re good enough. It might not be with West Ham but with other clubs.”

He added: “It’s opened my eyes coming here, it’s good to come to another country and see the players and what they have to offer.

“It’s also good that we [the coaches] all come from different  situations. We all have our own ideas and opinions but when we come together over lunch we’ve all more or less agreed on the same best players.

“Although after we’ve had a few Dark ‘n Stormies they’re all good enough!”

Martin Dell, who coaches at the Sidwell Friends School attended by the President’s two daughters in Washington DC, and is Head Scout at the International Academic & Soccer Academy in Yorkshire England that Nahki Wells attended when he first went to England.

Dell, in his second visit to Bermuda, praised the ability of the players yesterday but also highlighted the areas that must be improved upon if they are to play at a better level, whether that be at Prep School or College.

He said: “The players are technically gifted. They like to play and to get on the ball, but they have to work on the harder side of the game, the parts of the game that are not so fun, if you like.

“The Bermuda way is to be very polite and friendly but some of the things they need to do to improve is their discipline on the field for the whole of the game.

There is always a 10-minute period when the players lose focus or discipline, which will affect them at a higher level.”

Brett Mosen coaches at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada and was hugely impressed with the improvement in the girls’ performance from his last visit two years ago.

He added: “The idea is to give the kids the opportunity and to help them acquire the information really of what it takes to perform at a higher level — university, United Soccer League, for example.

“There’s been some good things on show and there’s things to work on. There’s about three or four players who could go on to another level, or who at least we think need to get off the island to test themselves in that environment.”

Yesterday’s sessions were accompanied by lessons on life skills, including how to stay away from gang violence.

Meanwhile, the Bermuda Football Association mid-term camp has also been running this week, with coaches from Valencia FC taking age-group sessions featuring Bermuda’s best young players.

The two camps have crossed over in some aspects and National Academy Director Richard Todd said it’s worked out well.

He said: “We talk with Cal Blankendal (President of BBFS) — obviously the college festival is more geared towards recruiting players for colleges so what we did is look at our older ages on the academies the 95, 96 and 97 years, particular those that have good grades, those that we feel need to be in front of those coaches and we steered them into that campo.

“What we’ve done as a team camp for the 2000s, the Under-13s, Under-14s and Under-15s and a mixture of some Under-16s is we’re saying ‘let’s deliver the team curriculum because you have to build from the bottom up.”