Sampson Gilbert, Head Coach of Fruta Conquerors FC, spends August dedicating his time to youth development, using football as a tool to make a difference in the academic and personal lives of children across Georgetown.
The Fruta Conquerors Annual Summer Camp was revived just last week after having been dormant for the last two years due to the global covid 19 pandemic. This year gives Coach Sampson Gilbert a chance once again to work with the children from Tucville and other surrounding communities.
Coach Sampson uses his skills as a qualified coaching mentor with the Guyana Football Federation to conduct this camp annually with the aim of holistic development of young boys and girls ages 7 to 17.
“Like I said, we do programmes in mentorship, trying to create an environment where these children feel free to express themselves so you’ll get to know what’s on their mind, various things that might be affecting them. Because these are children from various areas in Georgetown like East Ruimveldt, Albouystown, Tucville[…]” Sampson said.
The summer programme also involves remedial academic programmes for the players by teachers who volunteer their time to conduct classes.
While the all-round development of youths is the biggest goal, he also hopes to unearth potential in future stars of the game. Notably, top Guyanese footballer Omari Glasgow who was signed to Major League Soccer side, Chicago Fire, in January, is a former Fruta Conquerors player.
He noted that it has always been of utmost importance to him that he ensures young girls have access to the sport.
“It’s a game that more males migrate to, but we want to also capture those females and give them that confidence to actually operate in an environment where males are and feel free to communicate and feel free to express themselves. Also, it gives an opportunity to educate the young men on the respect for these young females.”
Despite receiving a donation from Prudential Technologies and having a few other regular sponsors on board, Coach Gilbert notes that the funding is still insufficient to carry out the activities while providing meals for the children. He sometimes dives into his own pockets to keep the camp running.
“Even if it's support for a couple of days, that would keep pushing the programme, and I make sure that I organise and mobilise the plan and schedule in such a way that I am able to provide a snack for the children. I am able to provide some reading material and writing material. At the end, I’m satisfied that I can see some influence from the work that is being done in the programme on these children based on how we start and how we progress.”
The Camp continues every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday until the end of August.