Posted on November 8, 2011
By O’Jay Burgess
A few years ago, I can’t exactly remember when and who said it, but some guy thought it would be a champagne idea, if the islands that make up the British West Indies the likes of Jamaica, Dominica and St. Lucia came together and like the West Indies cricket team and form one super team in order to become a solid unit that could launch an assault on CONCACAF soccer.
He had a point these little islands produced one of the most dominant sports team the world has ever seen. Today, however West Indies cricket team finds itself scrapping at the bottom of the cricket world barely holding off Zimbabwe and battling Bangladesh for the right to prop up the totem pole of the sport. But let’s rewind time to our golden days when the we would absolutely steam roll the English and Australians.
A novel idea but the fact is we are very individualistic as nations so a united West Indies soccer team would never work. Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago have World Cups to their names. Let us be honest. A united Caribbean would derail those two accomplishments and the team would just feature players from those two nations. During this World Cup campaign we now see the emergence of Antigua & Barbuta and Guyana and Caribbean football as a whole.
Ironically, it is the United States who has had strong bearings on Caribbean soccer as you will now see. There is no coincidence that Antigua & Barbuda has just roared through the early group stages of World Cup qualifying for Brazil 2014. The bulk of Antigua’s squad plays for Antigua Barracuda, a USL PRO Team.
The Barracudas get to take a chunk out of very competitive American soccer teams in an American soccer system. Argue what you like, but soccer in America is very well organized, something that Antiguans would not have been used to a few years ago.
Making a long story short, the Antiguans that make up this side play more, play more skilled opposition and harden their skills. That basically transmits to a strong national team. It’s like if Benfica and Sporting Lisbon are going well, believe Portugal will thrive. The American game is helping in the development of West Indians that find themselves in the system. Bermuda may not be gunning down the opposition like Antigua this qualifying campaign but there is marked improvement in its all around play.
Bermuda Hogges, owned by Manchester City legend Shaun Goater, has made its hay in the USL Premier Development League and as like Antiguans the Bermuda’s national squad is packed with players from the American-based side.
The results speak for themselves. Bermuda in recent times doesn’t look an easy side to knock over. If you think it’s just the teams like the Puerto Rico Islanders, Bermuda Hogges and Antigua Barracuda that benefit from the American infrastructure. Grenada’s Shalrie Joseph’s soccer education was nurtured in the collegiate system along with most recently Adelphi’s and Trinidad & Tobago’s Thorne Holder. Dane Richards and Donovan Ricketts are standout performers for Jamaica. Games have matured their players while playing state side and in turn all have gone on to serve their island nations bravely. Even Osvaldo Alonso has to admit if he didn’t leave Cuba he would not be the MLS star he is today.
I don’t know if United States and Canada to a lesser extent realize what is happening but they really provide the stage and the catalyst for a surge in Caribbean soccer. Players like Tyler Burgess of Bermuda are really profiting from this affinity with North American game. If they are not carefully, America maybe in for a nasty surprise when they face West Indian sides in the near future.
Categories: Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Caribbean, Cayman Islands, Cuba, CuraÃ§ao, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Guadeloupe, Guest Writer, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Martinique, Montserrat, My Two Cents, Puerto Rico, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Martin, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Sint Maarten, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos Islands, U.S. Virgin Islands
Tags: Antigua Barracuda, Dane Richards, Donovan Ricketts, Premier Development League, Puerto Rico Islanders, Shalrie Joseph, Shaun Goater, Thorne Holder, Tyler Burgess