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HomeNewsLocal newsYouth Soccer Players Train with Professional Footballers 

Youth Soccer Players Train with Professional Footballers 

Children practice skills during the three-day intensive. (Photo by Rashad Martinez)

Youth soccer players got an exciting opportunity to train alongside professional footballers in a three-day “Youth Futbol Clinic” on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday at the American Youth Soccer Organization soccer fields on St. Croix.

Members of the Imala Academy worked with girls and boys between the ages of six to 25. Founder and CEO Jabari Garibaldi, a former professional footballer, is dedicated to providing opportunities for young athletes to reach their full potential.

“I’m interested in bringing awareness to the youths of St. Croix in developing their skills in football,” said Garibaldi. “The sport teaches them discipline and building character.”

The pro players from the Caribbean worked with the younger children during the three-day summer camp teaching them drills. One of the organizers, Robin Thomas, said he’s not only there for education, but also to teach the aspiring athletes about good nutrition, mental health, and the importance of rest.

Professional coaches Alex Bidos and Jabari Garibaldi looking at the soccer players. (Photo by Rashad Martinez)

The children ran drills using tires to jump through, cones, and other types of activities. In the evenings, an older group would practice, raising the level of the game so that they can compete for the Dana Cup in Denmark.

Children practice skills during the three-day intensive. (Photo by Rashad Martinez)

The boys under 18 could be seen running up and down the field working on their skills while the professional players played with them.

Children take a break from their soccer drills. (Photo by the Youth Futbol Clinic)

Athletics Director Alex Bidos said that the U.S. Virgin Islands was a great fit for the program because it helps to prepare them to reach the next level.

The Imala Academy is a non-profit residential football program that discovers, develops, and nurtures players through technical and tactical football education with an emphasis on character development. The academy provides students with a platform to travel abroad, seeking opportunities to fulfill their potential at a collegiate/professional level and claiming a better future for themselves, their families, and communities at large, according to their website.

Garibaldi said that he hopes to inspire the next generation of footballers to dream big and achieve their goals.

The pro athletes were also very thankful to their sponsors for the three-day program which included Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands, Lori Dunton, Kiki from PuraFire, Ital in Paradise, St. Croix Youth Soccer Association, Lion Haven, Diane Prosper, Titan Gas, Chupacabra Tacos, The Market St. Croix, Bohlke Airlines, Food Town West End Water Sports, The Landing, Alfie’s and friends and families.

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