The Swalings Football Scholarships Program started in 2009 with our first recipient Cassiano Samuels. Cassiano came to us through our work with the Citizens Welfare Division; he won a term of football with us for his behaviour. His love for football transferred into wanting to carry it further and be a helper and coach the younger children in the program. Whilst helping us as a helper we saw the potential in him to become a full time coach. We ran our first tournament in 2009 and with the money raised from the tournament sent Cassiano to England for a month to become a FA Level 1 Football coach.
Upon his return Cassiano continued to work for us for another year before heading out to pursue his dream of becoming a pilot.
Cassiano sparked us to expand our horizons and we decided to sponsor 15 children between the ages of 11-15 years old for a year of football, completely free. We wanted to make sure football was available to all and instil in the children, commitment, teamwork, losing and winning with good grace. To make sure the children didn’t take their scholarships for granted, they all signed a contract with 10 rules they had to abide too; otherwise they would lose their place. This was their first step in learning about commitment and respect.
Swalings also works closely with the Boys Training School. The BTS is the islands juvenile jail as well as where young boys are taken for protection. With a huge mixture of different back grounds and constant changing faces, the challenge is always there to make sure the impact is instant and everlasting so that they can learn from their mistakes, grow and become better people.
To make sure that Swalings Soccer is available to as many children as possible, Swalings went to seek corporate sponsorship. The Sandals Foundation came on board and sponsored a further 15 children to play football for a year. They recently came on board to sponsor the children for another 15 years, having seen first hand the benefits of the program.
Since the start of our football scholarships program the success stories have been endless. We have had 5 children go on to represent their country at football.
The scholarship program has also helped steer children on a better path. One of our scholarship students was caught stealing and playing truant from school. We could have kicked him off the programme however we guided him along the way and he eventually became a coach for Swalings and then won a scholarship to the USA for school based on his footballing abilities.