Starlight football league brings life to rural community
For more than eight years, the Starlight football league has been bringing life to the rural community of Thompson Town, in Clarendon, attracting some 300 patrons each Sunday.
The league is the brainchild of 32-year-old Collin Henry, who recently returned to live in the area, after spending some 11 years in Grand Cayman.
Henry told THE STAR that while living in Grand Cayman he observed the daily events in a multipurpose stadium close by, and dreamed of implementing something similar in his hometown.
His dream started to take form in 2008 when he launched the Starlight football league.
"People around here gravitate very, very much to football. Once you say football, it's like you wake up the whole community," Henry explained.
The league, which is registered with the Clarendon Football Association, started out with eight football teams from communities within Thompson Town, and has grown over the years to 16 teams.
"In 2011, I saw a guy and a girl standing up with a baby. The guy say to me, 'Thank you, man, thank you, very much. You see this girl here, you know that a last year me come a football game and meet her and now me get baby with her. So you actually start a family," Henry shared.
In addition to entertainment for spectators, Henry says the Starlight football league is a training ground for football players, and also a feeding ground for coaches who come to scout players.
"Especially now that the Red Stripe Premier League season is over, you'll realise that players from Humble Lion, Sporting Central and Portmore United actually play in the Starlight league," Henry said.
Henry says the ultimate goal is to form a premier league team out of the Starlight football league to compete on the national level.
With the success of the Starlight football league, Henry joked that the females began to feel jealous so he launched the Starlight netball league in 2012 with 12 teams, which he says has been doing well.
Henry hopes to attract sponsors for the leagues, but he says he is prepared to push on with his own funds, for the love of it all.
"There is no better joy to me than to see the looks on people's face each Sunday when they come out and dem smile and laugh. Me will sit and look at the crowd of over 300 people and think that it all started from just one man, there is no better joy," Henry said.