DEVON Spencer, the former St Elizabeth Technical High School (STETHS) student, was announced as the first scholarship recipient of the Digicel/MVP Grassroots Athletics Programme as stakeholders partnered yesterday for the launch of its second staging at the University of Technology (UTech) grass track.
Through the efforts of the telecommunications firm and the UTech-based MVP Track and Field Club, the 19-year-old javelin thrower has been awarded a scholarship valued at $1 million to pursue studies in Computer Science at the Old Hope Road-located institution.
"This scholarship means the world to me because without it, I really don't think I would have been able to attain tertiary education," Spencer said in his speech.
"Being here at the University of Technology, home of world-class athletes, also means I have the opportunity to pursue my athletics dream to be at the next Olympic Games. Digicel has not only provided me with a scholarship, but also with an opportunity," continued the teenager, who hails from the community of Dalton located in south east St Elizabeth.
This year's Digicel/MVP Grassroots initiative will see young boys and girls benefiting from a total of five clinics across the island. The areas to be focused on are hurdling, jumping, throwing, middle distance running as well as sprinting — including relay baton exchanges.
Peter Lloyd, the marketing director at Digicel, said the programme is "not just about finding the next Usain Bolt or Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce", but is "focused on developing well-rounded athletes".
Arnaldo Brown, the Minister of State in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, delivered the keynote address in place of Minister with Responsibility for Sports Natalie Neita-Headley, as she was not able to attend the launch.
Brown endorsed the programme of "linking athletes with good educational" background since a career in track and field is relatively short.
The MVP club president Bruce James highlighted the success of O'Dayne Richards, the gold medal winner in the shot put event at the Commonwealth Games in Scotland. James predicted that Jamaica can expect another champion in new recruit Spencer.
Avadaugn Sinclair, the marketing manager for Best Dressed Chicken, said being an associate partner of the Digicel/MVP Grassroots clinics "is a no-brainer for most people" not only because of the branding opportunity, but also because it contributes to the development of youth.
Other associate sponsors of the programme are National Commercial Bank, Gatorade, Crystal Punch water and Nike.
The pre-clinic for the Cornwall region is set for STETHS on September 27, while Vere Technical will host the one for Middlesex on October 4, and Morant Bay High for the Surrey region on October 11.
The first major clinic is scheduled for Catherine Hall in Montego Bay on October 25 and the second is slated for the National Stadium in Kingston on November 8.