Saint Lucia Football Association (SLFA) president, Lyndon Cooper has joined many football enthusiasts in paying homage to one of Saint Lucia’s most decorated football coach on island.
“I thought the recent death of Victorin ‘Sugar’ Laurence was the end of the horror that I and the Saint Lucia Football Association (SLFA) Inc. has had to bear over the past 12 months or so. We have been so conscious of the pains associated with life and death recently, as these untimely events has brought them into sharp focus to our minds,” Cooper said.
He added, “Once again, we are rocked by the death of another football soldier. St. Croix ‘Vasso’ Albert has died at the age of 73 years. Although he had been sick, we also believed that he too was going to return to work someday soon.”
Said Cooper: “Vasso was our most celebrated national team coach and achieved so much in his lifetime. We had just once more assigned him to a new Under-13 national team in preparation for the next Concacaf Under-15 Championship in 2022. As usual, he too was anxious to start as the Covid 19 scenario had paused training and development. Vasso also fell sick and the training was again derailed awaiting his return to health so he could start his magic with his new team.
“I recognized Vasso´s extraordinary commitment and dedication, his non-ending desire for knowledge, his constant thinking of ways in which he could help the player develop and grow and his unflagging desire to see the association do well. We could not let this gem go to waste and so I quickly recruited him to the technical staff of the Saint Lucia Football Association Inc.
“Almost at once, there was impact. We were matching the teams in the region, our shortcoming was the lack of exposure at the international level and we paid dearly for that shortcoming at the crunch time, but Vasso was unfazed. He never gave up, he just kept on going working with the boys he had and continued to create competent players envied by our Caribbean neighbors.
“In his first spell he coached the U15s, U17s, U20, and senior national teams and reached the quarter finals in the Caribbean Football Union Cup. In 2000 he was appointed full time head coach of the national team by the Saint Lucia Football Association.
“In 2002, after training numerous younger coaches, he was elevated to youth development officer with responsibility for overseeing all youth development programs on the island at the Saint Lucia Football Association. Vasso took youth coaching to heart and started a pre-school coaching program in the Castries area. Some 12 years later and removed from that initial appointment in 2014, he was reappointed to head the national Under 15 and 17 programs and national teams.
“The SLFA as an organization and the wider Saint Lucian community is pleased and humble by the opportunity to honor one of our great servants of the game and maybe our greatest coach.
“In 2014 he achieved a feat that no other Football coach has been able to achieve in Saint Lucia. As coach of the Under 17 National Men’s Team he was victorious in two preliminary qualifications rounds in the 2015 Concacaf Under 17 World Cup Qualifiers, playing against teams like Trinidad and Tobago, Curacao, Grenada, Haiti and Barbados. The team had qualified to compete in the third and final round of qualification, to play in a World Cup in the CONCACAF Under 17 Men’s Championship. This final stage place in Honduras in February 2015 with former Under 17 world champions that had also qualified, teams like, the USA, Mexico, Honduras, Canada among others.
“During that time, the FIFA Technical Team commended Coach Vasso for this great feat of getting to the final qualification stage of the Under 17 World Cup.
“Although during that final round, we lost to Mexico, the USA and the likes, the FIFA officials were more astonished to learn that Saint Lucia only had 150,000 persons, that we had only spent about $150,000.00 on the team, that we had not played any friendly matches and that we did not have any foreign based players.
“They commended the coach and his team indicating that we were very good against these teams that had spent millions in preparation, camped together for six months, had played a series of friendly matches and had a number of youth players already at professional clubs.
“In 2019 St. Croix Albert created further history when he coached the National Under-15 Boys team to glory by winning first place in the Concacaf Division 2 Boys Under-15 championship which was held in Miami, USA from the 4th-12th December 2020.
“The team played unbeaten to lift the championship trophy, the results of matches played in this championship shows how dominant Vasso and his team was: Saint Lucia 3 – Saint Kitts 1; Saint Lucia 2 – French Guyana 0;Saint Lucia 2 – Belize 1; Saint Lucia 3 Nicaragua 2; Saint Lucia 3 Puerto Rico 1.
“Vasso´s ability to coach earned him the trust and confidence of the association and he was appointed to coach a number of other national teams as Head Coach. He coached the following teams: The National Under 15 Men’s National Team; The National U17 Men’s National Team; The National U20 Men’s National Team and The Senior Men’s National Team.
“Vasso continued to pursue knowledge at every opportunity and did his utmost to get the requisite and various Coaching Qualifications. He was perhaps the most decorated national team coach in Saint Lucia. He possessed the following certifications:
“FIFA – Level 1; FIFA – Level 2; FIFA – Level 3; FIFA Futuro – Level 2; FIFA Futuro – Level 3; International Coaching Course – Semmelweis University, Hungary; FIFA Development Course – Mexico/FIFA; FIFA Course Conductors Course – Trinidad/FIFA; FIFA Instructors Course – Trinidad/FIFA; FIFA Grassroots coaching Course; FIFA Women’s coaching – Level 1; FIFA Women’s coaching – Level 2; FIFA Women’s coaching – level 3;FIFA Elite Coaching Course; Concacaf D´License Coaching License
“Vasso was our pride and joy and we had the fullest respect and confidence in his ability and his dedication. In lieu of these, we honored him with our highest honor, ¨The Saint Lucia Football Association Inc – Lifetime Achievement Award¨. Vasso won the coach of the year award and by his results, qualified to be awarded that title every year.
“He was also honored by Concacaf and was awarded for his outstanding contribution to football development in Saint Lucia and his stellar and outstanding achievements in Coaching.
“I am at a loss as to how we will replace Vasso, he was visionary and futuristic. He was certainly the perfect embodiment of a coach and it is certain that we may never see another extraordinary person and coach as was Vasso.
“Vasso, my brother, rest and rest well, we will certainly miss your council and support.”