By Jamila Cross
Nyron Jones is a man with a definite sense of purpose about his life. As a former national under-20 player, he has represented several Pro League clubs locally, namely Caledonia AIA, North East Stars and San Juan Jabloteh.
At age 26, he made a successful transition from player to certified coach and is the holder of the Football Association of Wales UEFA Level 2 License.
“Based on my relationship with former national senior team coach Dennis Lawrence, I was encouraged to get my football license which allows me to provide my players with a greater understanding of the different components of the game.”
In 2015 Nyron, then a player with the University of Trinidad and Tobago, regularly had personal training sessions on his community’s training pitch. Young people naturally gravitated to the field to watch him train, and parents asked him to start something for the youth in the community.
At the time, his focus was on his personal development in the sport. However, Nyron, a firm believer in God, prayed for guidance. He got his confirmation and with his family’s blessing the Powerful United Football Academy (PUFA) was born.
The name is synonymous with the seriousness and discipline this young man exudes in his daily life. He states, “God showed me that there was a need for a powerful force to move the strongholds in the community, and the need to be united in order to achieve this goal.”
The Academy has grown from strength to strength with 60 players from across Trinidad. Grassroots football is one of the development philosophies of international football bodies such as FIFA and UEFA, and places emphasis on participation and a love of the game.
It embraces a whole-of-society approach: it is not only about the game itself, but instilling values including teamwork, social development, health, fitness, and personal fulfilment. The game is a vehicle for educational, social, and sporting development.
This has certainly been the approach of PUFA under the leadership of its founder and management team. They all share a single vision to impact the lives of children in the La Horquetta community, and by extension Trinidad and Tobago—to allow youth to realise that their dreams and goals are possible and achievable; that a life of crime is not the only way, and sport can be the vehicle to become well-rounded citizens.
In 2019, the Academy did not go unnoticed for its contribution toward youth and sport development. PUFA (entire team) was invited to have breakfast with Her Excellency President Paula-Mae Weekes and received a Community Group Award from the Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs.
They also became the first team from T&T invited to participate in the Alberta Soccer Association’s ‘Moon Day Tournament’ held in Edmonton, Canada. The Academy fielded three age group teams U-9 (placed first), U-11 (placed second), and U-13 (placed fourth) respectively in the tournament.
PUFA was invited to represent Trinidad and Tobago in the July 12–18 Gothia Cup in Gothenburg, Sweden. Unfortunately, ‘The World Youth Cup’ was cancelled because of the pandemic.
Notwithstanding the international opportunities, coach Nyron firmly sees PUFA’s success as having kids show up to every practice session, and manifesting changes in their households, community, and schools.
Parents have taken a more hands-on approach in their children’s development, and this will have a ripple effect on the community and ultimately the society. Nyron has applauded the support the Academy has received from organisations such as Atlantic LNG, Ace Recycling, House of Marketing and Republic Bank among the list of private sector partners who have contributed to the Academy’s success.
While training grounds are currently closed, Nyron uses this opportunity to continue providing support to the community by hosting 45-minute virtual training sessions with his players via Zoom video conferencing twice weekly on Thursdays and Saturdays.
With many parents at home, and some having temporarily lost employment, the club remains committed to supporting its members where the need arises.
This is an extension of the holistic approach that has been adopted from inception where players are provided with meals after their two sessions morning and evening on Saturdays. Even financial assistance has been rendered to parents to support the academic needs of Academy members.
It is this model that allows the Academy to continue to have the good faith of the community, its membership, and external partners.
Nyron Jones’ humility is disarming; he shares his favourite quote that he instils in his players, “Always be content, but never satisfied—keep in mind that there is always more to achieve.”
For more information on the PUFA contact Nyron Jones (868) 374-4518/686-7513, email: firstname.lastname@example.org or via social media: PUFA
Jamila Cross is a triathlete, former professional footballer for Sevilla FC women’s Club Spain, and mother of three boys Tishad, Akim and Santiago. She is the founder of the Mariama Foundation, a registered non-profit organisation raising the storytelling bar for the Caribbean’s female athletes