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Dwight Yorke and Seychellois President, James MichelFormer Manchester United star Dwight Yorke called at State House yesterday afternoon where he separately met President James Michel and Vice-President Danny Faure, only a couple of hours after he had arrived in the country on board a Kenya Airways flight from Nairobi.

The ex-Trinidad and Tobago striker has also played for Aston Villa, Blackburn Rovers, Birmingham City, Sunderland (in the English Premier League) and Sydney FC (in the Australian league).

Mr Yorke who at the end of his playing career was his national team’s assistant coach and is now part of Manchester United’s technical staff, is in Seychelles at the invitation of Airtel Seychelles to conduct football clinics as part of the ‘Airtel Rising Stars’ programme. The initiative offers the opportunity to young African footballers to be scouted and eventually pursue a professional career.

Dwight Yorke was accompanied at State House by the Manchester United relationship manager Michael Higham. Also present were Airtel Seychelles country manager Vikram Sinha, National Sports Council chief executive Giovanna Rousseau, Seychelles Football Federation (SFF) chairman Elvis Chetty, SFF secretary general Jemmy Adela, and Airtel representative Gail Talma.

During his meetings with President Michel, who is also the patron of Seychelles’ football, and with Vice-President Faure, a smiling Dwight Yorke, reminiscent of his glory days at Manchester United where he was called ‘The Smiling Assassin’, discussed how as being from a small island himself, he can help Seychellois youths understand what needs to be done in order to become professional footballers. He added that opportunities for the youth to succeed exist and they only have to seize them in order to fulfill their dreams.

As he welcomed Mr Yorke to Seychelles, President Michel conveyed his appreciation and gratitude for coming here.

“I hope that your visit here in Seychelles as a role model will be an inspiration to many of our young footballers who wish to further their potential in that sport. I would like you to encourage them and explain the necessity for hard work, discipline and dedication. These are good qualities that I wish you pass on to our youths as it will be good for them to espouse that and be able to become professional athletes like you one day,” said President Michel.

Several issues were discussed among which was the promotion of the Airtel Rising Stars, a programme which was launched here by Airtel Telecom Services in July 2013 in partnership with Manchester United, the SFF and Samsung Electronics which is the official device partner for the ARS programme.

The programme in Seychelles (ARS) is aimed at offering two most talented Seychellois youths the opportunity to attend a top-notch soccer clinic in the United Kingdom run by Manchester United Football Club.

During the meeting, Mr Yorke stressed that a key objective of Manchester United club has been youth development and the programme is one of the ways to offer talented youths the opportunity and hope for success in the future.

The President hailed the initiative and underlined the importance of putting the youth at the centre of development for the future and allowing them to achieve their dreams.

In response Mr Yorke said: “It is the discipline that I’ve developed throughout the years that have led to my success and I hope that I can pass on that message to the kids…There are so many doors and avenues that are open and with the relationship that we have built with the Airtel Rising Stars, it’s a great opportunity for kids to try and fulfill their dreams.”

During his three-day stay, the Champions League, Premier league and FA Cup winner who was also part of Trinidad and Tobago’s 2006 World Cup squad and has played 72 times for his country scoring 26 goals, will on different occasions interact with Seychellois youths and talk to them about football. He will also be the guest of honour at tomorrow afternoon’s Airtel Cup final match at Stad Linite between St Michel and Côte d’Or.

Dwight Yorke, who is on his first visit to our country and admits he had never heard of Seychelles football before, has said that the Seychelles is one of the destinations he has always wanted to visit, and that the beauty of the islands reminds him of his home country.

He has described becoming a professional, his successful years at Manchester United between 1998 and 2002 and disputing the 2006 Fifa World Cup in Germany as his biggest achievements as a footballer.