KINGSTON, Jamaica – It’s clear that Concacaf’s new and exciting grassroots football activation NextPlay is yet to self-actualize.
As it grows, the program - which uses primary schools across the Caribbean to give access to children and to use the sport as a vehicle for social transformation - is ever-changing by opening its arms to new and endless possibilities.
Also, it has had far-reaching and life-changing effects on the adults who have been associated with it in one capacity or another.
At a NextPlay Academy activity at the Captain Horace Burrell Centre of Excellence in Jamaica, Concacaf’s Director of Development Jason Roberts was wide-eyed at the prospects as the grassroots program charges into the future.
“I think we have a huge opportunity at Concacaf working with our partners, JFF, the government, the schools to place the participation of football and the important lessons that are learned central to what we do as we promote an agenda here for football for social change.
“I think it is an opportunity to work with young people who may or may not go on to be huge stars, but take their participation of football and sort of use that as learning blocks how they become better people, and I think that is an important message,” he told concacaf.com.
In its rollout season of the academy and competition, Roberts said the potential of NextPlay has been nothing short of emphatic.
“I think what’s clear is that we can partner with governments, we can partner with our member associations, in this case, the JFF. We can partner with the University of Technology, which I just came back from having partnered with them and JMMB to ensure that we have safeguarding as a curriculum which is spread across 800 coaches, so I think it’s more than NextPlay.
But more about how we place the football for social change agenda, and how we make it a part of our curricula and our competitions.
“The NextPlay platform is part of our Gold Cup as well, and we will be running it at Gold Cup games and here in Jamaica at the venue, so you see the collaboration with Curacao and El Salvador sending players here today (Saturday), so I think it is exciting times for us,” said the former Blackburn Rovers star.
The path forward is clear, Roberts hints, but NextPlay’s destination is still to be determined as it branches out into various exciting yet significant directions on its way.
“The next stage for us is to continue to partner and to spread this message far and wide, and I think we have a huge reach at Concacaf, and it goes over, and above the programs we are running at the moment, but the programs we are running at the moment serves to show what we can do,” Roberts ended.
NextPlay had its launch and pilot activation in Jamaica in May of last year.