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HomeNewsLocal newsSoccer Academy Imala to Compete Against V.I. Men’s National Team

Soccer Academy Imala to Compete Against V.I. Men’s National Team

Players train with members of the Imala Academy. (Photo provided by the Imala Academy)

Players from the Imala Academy will compete against the USVI Men’s National Team in a head-to-head game that is expected to bring high energy.

Non-profit Imala Academy will be hosting a free charity game at the Bethlehem Stadium on St. Croix on Tuesday, Dec. 5, starting at 7:30 p.m.

Jabari Garibaldi, the founder and CEO of the Imala Academy, said, “We are bringing down some professional athletes. Some current and some former from different Caribbean backgrounds. It’s going to be exciting to see what the Imala athletes can bring to the table as far as the style of play, the knowledge of the game, and the thought process of us playing on a different level as we are playing with a national team.”

The athletes from the Imala Academy are a selected team from South Florida but have never trained together. A lot of the guys are former professionals who have played in Europe, and some are current professionals playing in Europe or the U.S.

Imala’s mission is to help train and develop underprivileged youth athletes from the Caribbean countries. “We are mainly focused on technical and tactical football as far as bringing the European style of play to the Caribbean,” said Garibaldi.

Members of the Imala Academy look on to players. (Photo provided by the Imala Academy)

Their program follows a 365 style of training. Garibaldi said participants in the program train in the mornings, then have their schooling and lunch in the afternoon and then back on the field for their second session.

“It comprises character building, mental health, and healthy nutrition,” he said.

“We are hoping to attract as many youth athletes as possible to the event so that they can see that even though they are from the Caribbean, there is still a chance for them. There are still pathways for them to be successful through playing football coming from people who look like them,” said Garibaldi.

“A lot of Caribbean kids have the mindset that we are from the Caribbean there are no opportunities, no chance for us, but if they can see that there are Caribbean guys who made it off their islands and played in college or professionally then they can say ‘that can also be me,’” said Garibaldi.

In celebration of the game, there will be a meet and greet at the Palms at Pelican Cove, located in Princess, on Dec. 4 when all the athletes fly in. The community is welcome to come out to meet the athletes then. There will be crab racing, fire dancers, mocko jumbies and more.

The Imala Academy is no stranger to soccer on St. Croix. This past summer, they also hosted a soccer intensive for soccer students of all ages.

Picture of a summer intensive hosted by the Imala Academy. (Photo provided by the Imala Academy)

In continuation of that event, there will be an upcoming intensive hosted by the Imala Academy. It will be an advanced training for two weeks. Thirty-two kids from different soccer clubs on the island who are interested in advancing in soccer will be selected for four block session groups so that the coaches can be more hands-on.

More exciting news is that the Imala Academy is a residency program and will be working toward building a residency program in the Virgin Islands, making it the first in the Caribbean. If successful, this will take effect in the next few months, said Garibaldi.

The Imala Academy also wants to thank their sponsors, the V.I. Lotterry and other sponsors who have assisted with the upcoming game.

For more information on the Imala Academy, please visit their website at www.imalaacademy.org or email them at info@imalaacademy.org.

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