VIEUX FORT once produced some outstanding national footballers but in recent years the game in the south has been waning somewhat. One former national player believes something needs to be done to improve the quality of play of the town’s footballers.
THE VOICE caught with Nicholas Robbie William better known as “Shakespeare” during the St. Lucia Football Association Fantasy Cup semifinal at the Phillip Marcellin Grounds. He was the former coach/captain of Uptown Rebels of Vieux Fort and also former national player 1987 – 1988 under the guidance of Head Coach Arnold Clouden.
William recalled that in the 80’s Vieux Fort had five players on the national team. He said: “To have five players that you were raised with playing on the national team, it was a magnificent achievement.”
VOICE: What was the commitment like in your era as a player representing Saint Lucia?
William: The commitment was something else. You’re talking about players waking up around 4:00 a.m. or 4:30 a.m. Sometimes when you get outside, the grass is wet with dew; but that didn’t deter us from doing what we had to do and to come again not knowing what tomorrow would bring. The commitment, the passion was extremely high. And keep in mind there was no scouting; there was nothing in the game to keep us motivated. It was purely for the joy of the game. Well, you know, you have to realize, at least for me, sports was the great equalizer, because we didn’t have much, but when we had football it was like open access to the world. I mean it taught us friendship; it taught us how to be committed; it taught us how to be responsible, reliable and disciplined. Back then it was wonderful to be a footballer. It was great because of what we had. We respected the guys before us. For example, when we were playing on the Vieux Fort field and the senior players would come to play, they didn’t have to say a word. We gave them the entire field – you know we had to clear the way. Because two things happened, we respected what they had to offer; we wanted to learn what they had.
VOICE: As a former national player are you pleased with the quality of play you see now?
William: I was fortunate to watch the Windward Islands Tournament last year that was played right here at the Phillip Marcellin Grounds in May. The quality is at a tremendous low and it’s begging for some rejuvenation, because the very basics of the game are absent. This is critical especially now when the game is so technical. Based on what I saw and what I’ve seen then, even now, I think the basics are one of the places we have to start. I believe we can improve on that at the infancy level and take it way up to the seniors. Saint Lucians love their football. Vieux Fort has so much to offer; strange enough after 13 years Vieux Fort has never won a Blackheart Tournament. Now Vieux Fort is getting beaten by all kinds of teams in Vieux Fort. Before that was unheard of.
VOICE: In terms of the technical aspect what areas you’re referring to?
William: Stopping the ball, passing the ball, moving to the ball, not waiting for the ball. These are just the basic requirements of the game. Staying focussed, keeping your eye on the ball. The ball is the object, if your mind is off the object, you cannot take your game anywhere.
VOICE: What are your views on the administration of football in Vieux Fort?
William: We’ll have to start from the very beginning with input from all Vieux Fortians, those who are involved now, those who contributed in the past, those who are anxious and interested in seeing Vieux Fort football get to a level of progress and one of fun again. Vieux Fort football has no fun in it. It’s time for the active individuals that are committed to the game to do something about it and those that are not active and if they want to be active as well. It will require some dialogue, because Vieux Fort football can get back to where it was again. There’s too much petty fighting here and there; and that’s tearing the very core of the sport in the south.
VOICE: Are you willing to play your part to turn things around for the better?
William: I would love to do something at the grass roots level, go around the island and teach the infants the basics of the game, especially those who stand out. I think if Saint Lucia football has to get to any level again, for heaven’s sake we have to get back to the basics. We have the talent, but we don’t have what’s required presently at hand. Another area that is disturbing has to do with the coaches. Coaches are not just coaches because you played football in your earlier years. As a coach there are times you have to act as brother to a player; you have to be a father; you have to be a mediator; you have to be a counsellor. So it requires a lot of hats. I believe when you do it for the love of the game and for the future of the sport in your country, not necessarily for personal reward or recognition, then maybe we can make sure that football in Vieux Fort, in Saint Lucia and the other communities, gets back to where it rightfully needs to go.
VOICE: Your final words?
William: We have a lot to offer in the Caribbean, especially in St. Lucia. If we can foster those talents physically, mentally, and spiritually, we wouldn’t be under a crush spiral. We would be on an upward stronger spiral through strength and unity of everything that’s involved.