Sign up for sun, sea and sport on Barbados

Kate Simon visits a special summer camp where kids are coached by stars

'Get hold of the ball, Eto'o! ... turn on it, Fabregas, ... Good skills, Henry ... keep it in, Torres! ... unlucky, Berbatov, play on." It sounds like a commentary on a new football World XI but none of the players is more than 11 years old. These kids may be just learning the sport but they have big ambitions, which they reveal – along with their preferred team – in the choice of shirts.

This is the Barbados Sports Camp, a smart idea dreamt up by the tourist board to attract more people to the island after the summer Crop Over Festival, when the number of visitors traditionally dips. Now in its third year, the scheme is proving a success with almost the full summer quota signed up by the first day.

It's an attractive idea to kids who dream of seeing their picture one day on the cover of Fifa's annual computer game – which sadly seems to have supplanted scoring the winning goal in a World Cup Final as the top footie ambition – not least because it is led by British and Caribbean sporting icons. For the parents, there's the added attraction that it's free (though you do have to buy a holiday to Barbados in the first place).

Football, cricket and netball coaching takes place over four weeks, from 4 to 28 August, at the Cave Hill campus of the University of Barbados, just outside Bridgetown. Former England and Liverpool keeper Ray Clemence, England and Worcestershire batsman Graham Hick and England netball skipper Olivia Murphy are among the stars turning out to coach the nine- to 17-year-olds.

This week the football is led by former Crystal Palace striker Mark Bright – who scored the first goal in the new Wembley Stadium. He is assisted by five local coaches with connections to the Barbados national team. Children are split into age groups and the experts rotate between them focusing on key skills, as well as playing a match or two. "This is my third year here," Bright tells me on the touchline. "The kids learn some new skills and have fun, too, which is the most important thing. But it's very hot."

Indeed, frequent water breaks are an integral part of the daily routine. Water and squash are provided free in the shade of a large canopy where two paramedics are also in attendance. Children bring a packed lunch or have a little cash for the campus cafeteria (though its burger-and-chips fare isn't the best for mini sports stars).

Camp begins promptly at 10am, Monday to Friday, and finishes at 2pm, leaving plenty of time for the beach. It's a similar regime for the cricketers who train on a ground used for warm-up games for last year's One-Day World Cup and, beyond them, there's the similarly eager young netballers.

Though the camp is mainly aimed at visiting children, locals are invited too – another aim of the scheme is to encourage friendships. Local resident Fenella has brought along her 14-year-old son Khalil. She's more than a mere football mum, Fenella manages a youth team at the Barbados Soccer Academy, one of a growing number of clubs tapping into a new generation of keen players. To play cricket for the West Indies was once the ambition of every Caribbean boy, now football is becoming the favoured sport.

Still, the goal of striking up international friendships is scored, if temporarily. The kids are shy at first but playing the game is enough to get them talking. A clash of shin-pads between my nine-year-old son, Quincy, and Jamie, a Bajan boy of the same age, provides a week's worth of gentle ribbing: "Quincy, you owe me one!".

Being confined to the canopy during the hour-long lunch break, taken when the sun is at its height – no kicking of balls allowed – encourages even the shyest to eventually get talking.

Quincy even makes friends with the only girl on the course, 11-year-old Jess from London, a graceful defender with an eye for a goal who can teach the boys a thing or two. We're only here for a week, but Jess's family are staying longer. She's in no doubt – more sports camp please mum and dad.

COMPACT FACTS

How to get there

Kate Simon travelled to Barbados courtesy of Thomas Cook Signature (0844 879 8015; tcsignature.com), Elegant Hotels (0800 917 3078; eleganthotels.com), and the Barbados Tourism Authority (020-7299 7175; visitbarbados.org). Seven nights at Turtle Beach costs from £1,009 per adult, £490 per child under 12, all-inclusive, including flights with Virgin Atlantic. To book this year's Barbados Sports Camp go to barbados-sports-camp.com.

News
Ben Little, right, is a Labour supporter while Jonathan Rogers supports the Green Party
general election 2015
News
The 91st Hakone Ekiden Qualifier at Showa Kinen Park, Tokyo, 2014
news
Life and Style
Former helicopter pilot Major Tim Peake will become the first UK astronaut in space for over 20 years
food + drinkNothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
News
Kim Wilde began gardening in the 1990s when she moved to the countryside
peopleThe singer is leading an appeal for the charity Thrive, which uses the therapy of horticulture
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Alexis Sanchez celebrates scoring a second for Arsenal against Reading
football
Life and Style
health
Voices
An easy-peel potato; Dave Hax has come up with an ingenious method in food preparation
voicesDave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
News
Japan's population is projected to fall dramatically in the next 50 years (Wikimedia)
news
Life and Style
Buyers of secondhand cars are searching out shades last seen in cop show ‘The Sweeney’
motoringFlares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Bid / Tender Writing Executive

    £24000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: With offices in Manchester, Lon...

    Guru Careers: Marketing Executives / Marketing Communications Consultants

    Competitive (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a number of Marketi...

    Recruitment Genius: Marketing Executive

    £20000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This well established business ...

    Ashdown Group: Management Accountant - Manchester

    £25000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Management Accountant - Manchester...

    Day In a Page

    NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

    Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

    A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
    How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

    How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

    Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
    From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

    The wars that come back to haunt us

    David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
    Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
    Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

    UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

    Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
    John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

    ‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

    Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
    Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

    Let the propaganda wars begin - again

    'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

    Japan's incredible long-distance runners

    Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
    Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

    Tom Drury: The quiet American

    His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
    You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

    You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

    Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
    Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

    Beige to the future

    Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

    Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

    More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
    Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

    Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

    The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
    Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own