Westgate inmates given chance to participate in football course
Inmates at Westgate Correctional Facility have taken part in the Matrix Soccer Academy coaching programme.
Held over the Easter holiday weekend, the course is the brainchild of Dennis Brown, the former Bermuda defender and retired prison warden, who observed first-hand the positive influence such initiatives have had on prisoners in the United Kingdom.
“I worked in the prison for 31 years and one of the things I observed when I went overseas to visit different prisons in the United Kingdom is how they offered the prisoners coaching and referee courses,” Brown told The Royal Gazette.
“So one of the things I was always keen to do, especially once I became the president of the Bermuda Football Coaches Association, was to take the football coaching part to the prison. This was a perfect time to do that with Charlie [Matrix Soccer Academy founder Charlie Jackson] and Bryan [USA Matrix president Bryan Watson] coming down to Bermuda.
“First of all, I want to thank the prison department for allowing us to come in to deliver the session and I was really proud of the guys who took part. It was first class.
“They were a bit apprehensive when they first came into the room. We had a little overview of the programme before going out to the field for a session and the whole experience exceeded my expectations.
“The inmates were very engaging and asked some intelligent questions, and I was very pleased with that.”
The inmates also left a good impression on Jackson and Watson who were both blown away by the experience.
“The highlight of this visit was the invitation to Westgate Prison, where we were amazed by the interaction between the coaching staff and the inmates,” Jackson said.
“The inmates were actively engaged, asking questions on coaching viewpoints and even demonstrating Matrix drills on the field. This was an incredible experience that left the Matrix team humbled and impressed.
“The success of this event was due to the efforts of Dennis Brown, who managed to organise the event with the coaches association amid the elite coaching sessions.”
Inspired by the level of enthusiasm and commitment demonstrated by the inmates, Brown is now keen to provide them with more opportunities to enhance their skills and knowledge of the game.
“We are very pleased with what we saw at Westgate and looking forward to more delivering online things for the inmates.” he said. “It’s a lot to look forward to for them and also a lot to look forward to for us.
“At the end of the day, everybody makes mistakes in life and this is just the beginning for what we want to do with the inmates.”
The visit to the Westgate Correctional Facility was part of a collaboration between the Bermuda Football Coaches Association, Bermuda Sports International, Bermuda Brazilian Football School, Matrix Soccer Coaching, Bermuda Football Association and sponsors Marsh Limited.
The trip also featured coaching sessions with Whitney Middle School students and under-15 girls national academy players as well as a symposium for coaches.
“Equally important were the sessions at Whitney Middle School, where the students showed great enthusiasm and performed drills to a high standard,” Jackson said.
“Matrix Soccer Coaching’s mantra is to take Bermuda football to a whole new level by working with everyone on the island. The innovative programme emphasises Matrix Soccer Coaching as a paradigm shift due to its unique approach, and the vision of Whitney Middle School helped to make it a success.
“Matrix Soccer Coaching is committed to continuing to make a positive impact on the island and taking Bermuda football to new heights.”
Brown is now keen to introduce the Matrix coaching philosophy to other institutions throughout the island as part of his mandate to try to assist the Bermuda Football Association and improve the local game.
“We just want to take this programme and system everywhere from the prison to the schools,” he added.
“Our next initiative for when Charlie comes back is to take it to foster children, so we are going island-wide. Going into the schools, we’re going to have a little partnership with Whitney in relation to delivering the programme out of their school, and the sky is the limit.
“At the end of the day this guy [Jackson] has created 17 professional football players in roughly ten years so that’s got to tell you something about his programme and how effective and efficient it is, so we are going to be moving forward full steam.”
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