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  Football

Butler grateful for $3m Claro sponsorship

 
Ryon Jones, Gleaner Writer

The Phoenix All-Stars Football Academy (PAFA) has been given a huge boost, which will allow it to reach new heights.

Telecommunications giant Claro has gotten on-board and has decided to sponsor the PAFA to the tune of over three million dollars. Through the sponsorship, PAFA will receive monthly cash sums as well as essential gear.

President of PAFA, Craig Butler, is extremely grateful for Claro's support.

"I can only lift my hat to Claro and thank them for the support that they have given; it is unbelievable," Butler said.

"We are able to receive cash on a monthly basis but more importantly, we are able to get the equipment immediately that we need. So we were able to get balls, jerseys, boots, training flags, cones, nets, all the things that you would need to have in a strong academy to be able to function properly and they (Claro) have provided all of that," he added.

Academy aims

The academy aims to develop youth football from the grassroots via a sustainable, consistent method, which seeks to work exclusively with the youngsters to develop them holistically.

"It started with Richard 'Pot Cover' McDonald; he was a founding member of the Phoenix Football Academy," Butler said. "When I returned to Jamaica in 2001, I started trying to help Jamaican football. I started out by first coming up with the adopt-a-player programme. I was the general manager (GM) at Toshiba at the time and we had sponsored Peter Cargill."

The academy, which Butler said now comprises over 230 youth players, has been bearing fruit.

"We have helped the kids where they needed help; school uniforms, books and today the academy has been blessed with Claro's support. Eight of our youth players were recently selected to play professionally in Europe and these boys are all under 16, including an 11- and 12-year-old," Butler pointed out.

The PAFA has gained further international attention, having been invited to participate in the prestigious world youth tournament - The Norway Cup 2010 - to be held in Oslo, Norway, from August 1 to August 7.

The University of Technology (UTech)-based academy will on Saturday host their final day of training for their winter camp.

"This camp is almost like the culmination of one year's work. A lot of players are going to be there and we are also going to honour our pass alumni and coaches," Butler informed. "This year's honoree is Mauricio Ventura."

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