'GOALS 4 LIFE' Scores in Lives of Unattached Men in the West

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 First place winners Russia receive their Goals 4 Life trophy from Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of National Security, Ms Dianne McIntosh.

When the final whistle sounded on the inaugural Goals 4 Life competition in western Jamaica on July 24, rivals had become partners, and peace and unity were in the ascendancy in several volatile communities. Moreover, hundreds of unattached youth were registered for vocational skills training courses, removing them from idle living on street corners, and at least three players were drafted into the Jamaica Under-23 squad.

Organizers from the western office of the Ministry of National Security’s Citizen Security and Justice Programme (CSJP) affirm that while scores of residents came out to see the thrilling finale, sitting through the intermittent rain, there was evidence of success in the larger goal of community unity and personal development.

The football carnival dubbed’ Goals 4 Life’, is a programme designed to motivate unattached male youth on the corners to cultivate and pursue life goals and to become agents of peace and community stability.

In the finals played at Jarrett Park in Montego Bay, St. James on Sunday, July 24, Westmoreland-based Russia knocked out Farm Heights 2-0 in a fiercely fought game to claim the inaugural CSJP League title.

The final game in the inter community component of the competition culminated a series of community six-a-side knock-out competitions. All star teams from each of 11 CSJP-served communities in the west saw men and youth from formerly rival areas in their communities come together to form their community squads. 

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of National Security, Dianne McIntosh, in a live broadcast interview with Mello FM's Barry G, said "I think that some of the values and the lessons we have been trying to teach have been learnt."

"The feedback we have gotten is that we have gone very far," she said.

Pointing to the resilience and commitment of the youth, CSJP Community Action Officer for Glendevon, Mt. Salem and Norwood, Rebecca Gayle says for her ,a highlight of the Finals was the participation of one player from Flanker in Montego Bay who turned up for play despite a violent flare up in his community the night before.

Donville Wright, captain of the victorious Russia team, praised organizers of the Goals 4Life programme.

"We are really hoping, and looking forward to the programme being extended. Most of us don't have a job and the ball game kinda bring out the youth who don't have anything to do otherwise. We wish we could have more like this."

Speaking to his team's preparation ahead of the match, Wright said the group was forced to strategise well as the team is made of mostly young, inexperienced players. " It was tough but good. Although the other team was very competitive, we were the side that was more hungry for it," Wright said.

Of the impact on the community he says: "Most of the people came out and when we won it bring out a joy in the community. You had people out there with us beating pot covers, knocking pots and all that."

He says the benefits too have been immediate.

Dacia Bonnick, CSJP Community Action Officer for Russia and Granville, says following on the success of the football initiative, the focus will now shift to vocational skills training , job training and  entrepreneurial training  which is slated to begin this month - August.

"We also will continue to do more life skills training," she said pointing out that this aspect had been reinforced through the presentation of trophies, gift certificates and cash vouchers to the winners in lieu of hard cash. "We're encouraging them to open accounts, using this as a start."

First placed Russia also received awards for the Most Supportive Coach - Dwayne Forrester, Sportsmanship - Odel Hamilton while Kemar Dawkins was recognised as the Most Valuable Player (MVP).

Farm Heights in second place received the Best Goal keeper award. Glendevon received the award for the Most Disciplined team and Rose Heights was placed third in the final standings.