THE UNITED States Embassy is willing to offer sporting alternatives for the youths of the nation, said John McIntyre, the US Embassy’s Charge d’Affaires.
McIntyre was speaking yesterday at the final day of the embassy’s Sport Diplomacy Soccer AssisTT programme, at the Larry Gomes Stadium, Arima.
The embassy partnered with non-governmental organisation (NGO) Can Bou Play Foundation for a week of coaching and mentoring hundreds of youths throughout Trinidad.
McIntyre said, “This is part of our overall sports envoy programme that we have. It’s an outreach to a lot of different local communities. We did this for over 500 youths. We really want to be involved in the local communities. We are all over TT with our efforts.”
Former US players Tom Dooley and Estelle Johnson were involved in the programme, as sport diplomacy ambassadors.
Mc Intyre continued, “This is part of our outreach that really gives youths an alternative, to allow them a way to get away from crime (and into) positive opportunities.” Yesterday’s session, involving youths from the MiLAT (Military-Led Academic Training) Academy, was badly affected by torrential rains.
Yohance Marshall, former national defender and member of the Can Bou Play Foundation, said, “Our foundation started off earlier in the year. We came together as professional football players, realised we have an impact, a voice, and we wanted to give back to our communities.
“We have been going into the various communities and sharing a little knowledge, doing mentorship programmes and clinics.”
On Monday, a session was held at the Police Barracks in St James with the Police Youth Club and schools in the Diego Martin area. Schools from Rio Claro, Mayaro, Guayaguayare and Biche featured in a session, on Tuesday, in Rio Claro. Two days later, attention switched to Chaguanas and schools from the Central region.
About the partnership with the embassy, Marshall said, “The partnership actually came about after we did a programme in Preysal and San Fernando. LoopTT was on board, they did a piece on it and I guess the US Embassy saw it, and then they reached out to us about this project they had coming up.”
McIntyre hinted that there may be possibilities for aspiring footballers from this programme to obtain football scholarships in the US.
“We have our college fair coming up next week at the Hyatt,” he said. “That’s an opportunity for youths to learn about US colleges. But we will work with people to get them an idea of what’s available in the US, because there (are) so much opportunities.
“The youth of T&T have so much talent, we really want to partner with them.”
Marshall does not intend this project to be simply a one-off.
“We’re going to try to do this as a repeat, something holistic, where we continue to see their progress until the end of the year,” said the Queen’s Park defender. “We do have a lot of places to visit, where we do follow-ups. We are an NGO and we do our own funding. We’re looking for sponsorship. We’re looking for people to come on board and help us out.”
He added, “We did get some help from the Ministry of Education and we are currently speaking with the Ministry of Sport to see how we can get some things going.”
Can Bou Play out to Give Back
Can Bou Play Foundation Media Release
The Can Bou Play Foundation (CBPL) was officially launched on Monday 28 May at the St Dominic's Pastoral Centre in Diego Martin by a host of names familiar to local football fans. Yohance Marshall, Sean de Silva, Jared Bennett, Akim Armstrong, Elton John, Keston George, Julius James and Amiel Mohammed have stepped forward to pilot this new project.
In his address, Marshall, who scored Trinidad and Tobago's famous last minute equaliser in the 4-4 draw with Mexico in the 2015 Gold Cup, touched on the genesis of the Foundation.
"When the Pro League season ended, we didn't really know what was going to happen. A couple of the guys were there and we wanted to at least keep fit. So we started training together and more and more guys joined."
"Then being together with like minded individuals, we started to think about our options and how we could now give back and be a support system. That movement evolved really quickly and Can Bou Play was formed, " said an excited Marshall.
Can Bou Play Foundation will seek to host mentor and education tours at a minimum of thirty schools, children's homes and football academies across T&T in 2018. As well as pioneer education programmes using sport as a catalyst and produce a video series outlining the highs and lows of local footballers.
Also touched on at the launch was the need for the Foundation to be run as a corporate entity with sustainability at its forefront.
1ndividual Aesthetic has already come on board as the official merchandise partner, while the group already boasts a few burgeoning international partnerships
A few weeks ago, Can Bou Play partnered with US based charity, Around the World's Inc, to distribute over 150 match jerseys and more than 40 balls to children's homes and organizations across T&T (See attached Video).
Centro Deportivo Canning, an affiliate of Club Athletico Banfield, in Argentina has also issued their formal support for CBPL's long term initiatives.
Former T&T midfielder, and fellow founder Sean de Silva echoed his colleagues sentiments and the need for there to be a positive change in the local football and sports landscape.
"The inspiration behind the name comes from the Canboulay festival which was the precursor to carnival and our music. It was a symbol of freedom and more importantly a freedom of expression. It was a major step and we, the founders, found similarities with what we are trying to do with our movement."
"We decided that there is no better time than the present to give back to our country where we truly need to use sport and education to nurture young men and women into the successful citizens that our country needs to get back on track."
The founders of this ambitious organization have also committed their playing futures to various clubs for the 2018 season.
Marshall, John and George have left 2017 TT Pro League title winners North East Stars to join former Central FC standout, Sean de Silva at Queen's Park Cricket Club in the TT Super League as part of a partnership between QPCC and CBPL.
Former National Beach Soccer player Jared Bennett will suit up for his hometown club of Point Fortin Civic FC and Akim Armstrong will be aiming for a productive first season with Central FC.
Julius James had earlier signed for Atlantic City FC in the NPSL (USA).
Anyone or organization interested in learning more about or partnering with the Can Bou Play Foundation can contact our social media pages @canbouplay or firstname.lastname@example.org.