By RENALDO DORSETT

YOUTH Empowerment through Sports International (YESI) officially expanded its pilot programme to another local primary school as it continues its mandate of using the game of soccer to impact the community at large.

YESI partnered with the Adelaide Auxiliary yesterday to officially launch the programme at Adelaide Primary.

The  Adelaide programme, like its predecessor at Gambier Primary, targets several segments which include: Academy Level Training; Club – Level Training and Competition; Recreational Soccer; Coaching Education and Training.

“We’ve been focusing on quality as opposed to quantity. We really want to get the home-work and tutoring aspect of this nailed down. The students have to have a specific GPA to be a part of the programme and that is so important to us as both aspects of the student athlete go hand in hand,” YESI founder Happy Hall said.

“When we do give them tools through soccer we want them to be able to do something with it. It has taken a bit longer than we originally thought to expand, but I think we are doing it the right way.”

It is the group’s vision to offer skills training and mentorship to shape young Bahamians into disciplined and productive individuals that are eligible for scholarship opportunities and pursuing sport on a professional level.

To date, 14 YESI students have received scholarships to local private schools through their involvement with the programme.

“The purpose is to give these kids opportunities. I was always taught there’s no such thing as luck, it’s when opportunity meets preparation. We prepare the kids, we give them the opportunities needed and they determine how they are able to use those opportunities by the work they put in,” Hall said. “They’re getting trained by licenced coaches and we try to focus on them being taught the right thing and tutored by people skilled in early childhood development.”

With pilot programmes at Gambier and Adelaide, YESI looks to expand to the Family Islands in the near future.

“We’re trying to focus on the more rural areas and we also want to expand to the Family Islands. There’s less support for these schools on the outskirts of the island, places like Gambier, places like Adelaide. Many people probably don’t know where Adelaide Primary School is but we just wanted to make sure they got what they deserved, they’re great kids it’s a great community,” Hall said.

The Adelaide Auxiliary has been chiefly responsible for several upgrades around the school’s campus, including a new basketball court, artificial soccer pitch, reading pavilion and other amenities.

“We’re a charitable organisation that raises money to support this school and using the funds we raise from the Lyford Cay and Old Fort communities, we do what we can to enhance this school. Our primary contribution, which is our original mandate since the organisation was formed back in the 70s, we feed the children breakfast and lunch everyday,” committee member Lucy Lyons said.

“This partnership came about because of a lack of extensive PE facilities and teachers at the school. We contribute to everything from transporting the kids to matches, providing the extra training and whatever we can assist with. There are some great athletes in the making, some great budding footballers and we just want them to have the same opportunities as other students.”

For more information on YESI – donations, programmes and how to get involved – visit the group on Facebook, or visit www.yesisoccer.com

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