FORMER national footballer Albert ‘Vasso’ St. Croix has a story to tell that is not only fascinating but also not easily emulated.
He has 50 plus national caps under his belt and is a two-time Popham football champion (1987 and 1990). He represented Saint Lucia up to his late 30s
A leading figure of the Vempers Sports Athletic Dramatic Club (VSADC) St. Croix brought the winning edge to the club and in the process put them in the national sports scene.
Today he is currently unwell and is at home recovering.
This reporter spoke to former secretary of the VSADC Club, Peter “Go Brown” Prospere about one of Saint Lucia’s/ VSDAC legendary player.
This is what he had to say.
“One will never imagine that Albert St. Croix, affectionately known by all and sundry as “Vasso”, was known through the years as Cassim Louis. Born on September 13th, 1948 the name change came about, upon him seeking renewal of his passport when a search for his birth certificate was back tracked to his parents’ birth names which led to the name change”.
“It must be noted that during his teenage years his enthusiasm for music, earned him the nickname Vasso, after the saxophonist called Vasso De Fratus who played with the mighty sparrow, Calypsonian from Trinidad and Tobago”.
He continued, “Albert grew up in the Conway area, now called the Castries Waterfront, and had a love for football from a child; he started playing organized football when he attended the St. Aloysius R. C. Boys Infant and Primary Schools”.
“Upon leaving primary school Albert joined the Royal Saint Lucia Police Band where he became a drummer and also represented the police football team in the 2nd Division competition. After his stint with the police band, Vasso continued his drumming as a musician where he earned his living playing at the hotels; he also worked as a supervisor at the fisheries complex when it was newly opened”.
Referencing his playing days Prospere, said “He joined the Shamrock Football Team in the 1st Division and played midfield with players like Patrick “Shark” Gabriel, Hildreth “Bigdoe” Laurencin, John ‘John’ Laurencin, Allan ‘Ball’ Southwell, Rupert Polius, to name a few. During this period Shamrock and CYO were top rivals with both teams possessing most national players drawing massive crowds at the Marchand Grounds and some daring encounters. Vasso was first selected to represent the National Football Team during his years, in the early 1970s, as a member of the Shamrock Team”.
Prospere continued, “Albert then moved on to his neighborhood team VSADC as team captain in the Intermediate Division, and the team went on to dominate that Division and was promoted to the 1st Division. That VSADC Intermediate Team was coached by Owen Charles a former national player and comprised of players such as Anthony “Wax” Bonaire, Rupert Martindale, Ernest “Snore” Goddard, Morlan Charles, Gregory “Pokino” Anderson, Michael Fedee and Trevor “Flecky” Anderson” (15 years old at the time)”.
According to Prospere, “Vasso took over the coaching of the VSADC Club (1st, 2nd and 3rd Divisions) from Owen Charles and was player / coach of the 1st Division. VSADC was noted for its unique brand of possession football which was strongly influenced by the coaching stewardship of Vasso; which made the club a formidable and competitive force winning a number of CFC and Soccer Ramas”.
In 1979 VSADC made its first overseas tour to Trinidad and Tobago with Vasso as player / coach of the team. VSADC was host of the club Laventille, who had toured Saint Lucia the previous year and in return invited VSADC to the twin Island.
Call it quits as a player: “Vasso retired from playing First Division Football in 1982 and became the fulltime coach of VSADC. During the 1980s Green Parrot VSADC (Sponsored by Chef Harry Joseph) was a force in local and regional football, under the stewardship of coach Vasso. In the golden era he coached players like Trevor “Flecky” Anderson, Victorin Weekes, Garvin Sifflet, Ervin “Barboy” Hippolyte, Stephen Darling, Michael “ Bock” Jn Baptitse, Michael “Jah Youth” Raymond, Martin “T Carmen” Alexander, Austin Prospere, Sean Kirton, Gilroy “Apa” Mitchell, Desmond Pierre and Neri Gilbert, just to name a few”.
Prospere said, “VSADC was a dominant force winning a number of Castries Football Council, (CFC) National and Regional championships; they also won Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Mackeson Championship in Barbados, qualified for the CFU Quarter Finals in Guadeloupe, with Vasso as coach”.
“It was during the dominance of VSADC that Vasso was selected on the coaching staff of the Saint Lucia Football Association (SLFA) in the early 1990s, alongside Stewart Charles – Fevrier. He presently has remained a national coach with the SLFA and has coached all level of national teams both male and female U15s; U17s; U20s and Senior”.
The last national team he coached was the Under 15s which remain undefeated in CONCACAF.
A very close working relationship has developed with the SLFA: “He receives support from the SLFA as coach and development officer. Albert has attended a number of coaching courses and also received assistance with transportation/ equipment and meals to train the national Under 17 team around the island.”
“Although Vasso was employed fulltime as National Youth Coach; he, along with Trevor “Flecky” Anderson and Jackson Prospere were instrumental in the formation of the VSADC Youth Academy in 2006. He assisted with training sessions and the training of coaches of the academy. Vasso was always willing to assist VSADC club teams whenever the time permitted him from his busy national coaching duties,” Prospere said.
As Youth Development Officer of the SLFA, he has done work with the Preschool Grassroots Programme as Coordinator and Coach and Grassroots and Youth Development Programme Coordinator for the Northern Region.
Achievements: Popham Tournament Champions 1987 and 1990; Quarter Finals of CFU Cup; Windward Islands Tournament; OECS Mackeson Championship; Petroleum Dealers Cup; National Championships; Blackheart Club Champions; 2014/2015 Third Round qualification – CONCACAF Under 17 Men’s National Team; 2018/2019 CONCACAF Under 15 champions, team Saint Lucia is still unbeaten.
Other achievements: SLFA Football Coach for the Year 2014/2015; SLFA Life Time Achievement Award 2015 along with former SLFA Secretary, Hudson Kelly.
Coaching Qualifications: FIFA Level 1; FIFA Level 2; FIFA Level 3; FIFA Futuro Level 2; FIFA Futuro Level 3; International Coaching Course – Semmelweis University; Development Course – Mexico; Course Conductors Course – Trinidad and Tobago; Instructors Course – Trinidad and Tobago; Grassroots coaching Course; Women’s coaching level 1; Women’s coaching level 2; Women’s coaching level 3; Elite Coaching Course and CONCACAF D’ Coaching License.