THE Gros Islet Municipal Conference Room was a hive of activity on Monday evening, when the Gros Islet Football League (GIFL) held a special ‘Send off Ceremony’ for five of its national Under 14 footballers, schedule to leave Saint Lucia on Friday 20th August for the Dominican Republic.
The five players are part of Team Saint Lucia that will participate in the 2021 Caribbean Football Union (CFU) Boys U14 Challenge Series.
Present at the ceremony were newly elected Parliamentary Representative for Gros Islet and Minister for Youth Development and Sports, Kenson Casimir, GIFL President, Shayne Paul and other members of the GIFL executive, Technical Director of the GIFL – Francis Mc Donald, Andra Wilfred (special rendition), coaches, parents and members of the media.
The players present on the evening were – Rickelme Lionel, Lyndon Constantine, Taye Peter and Samaiel Louison (missing – Curtisiho Stephen)
First Vice President of GIFL Chard Desir congratulated the players but stating that “the GIFL strive by maintaining a certain brand, and once you represent Gros Islet, you represent a brand. It’s a privilege to play for a club in Gros Islet and most importantly to represent your country.”
According to Desir, “Our plan is to have at least four players in the national team. One player made the national team three years ago (Jahil Evans) and we saw that as a problem, because our goal was always to have at least four players on any national team, it doesn’t matter at what level. Here we are this evening recognizing five of these players and in time to come, we will have more than five players coming from Gros Islet.”
President of the GIFL, Shayne Paul said, “I take those accomplishments very seriously, why, because of the effort put in volunteering to accomplish those goals. However, I urged those players in return to continue the job at hand, it may be tedious, hard and sometimes we cannot do it, but we must do it and we must reach where we want to reach”.
Paul took time to thank the following affiliates, GMC United, Monchy FC and Northern United, who have played their part in ensuring those players reach this landmark.
“I must say heartfelt thank you to our sister club, New Generation FC who saw it fitting to invest their own players in our GIFL programme. This occasion is ours and we must ensure that we take it and we go where we must go with it,” Paul said.
Parliamentary representative for Gros Islet, Kenson Casimir said, “When I was approached by the GIFL in terms of seeking some form of support/ sponsorship for the young footballers who made it on the national team I was in a bit of a quandary with my team and being somebody who understands what it means to be talented and to have the skill and not have the financial backing that is required for further development, we reached deep and was able to secure a small amount for every national player to get at least something tangible towards their travel and their packages to travel to the Dominican Republic to represent Saint Lucia.”
“I am very happy that the intention going forward is to ensure we provide support for every person from Gros Islet who makes it to a national team to provide some level of support for them for their travel and you (players) will be the very first recipients from me of that small token.”
Casimir took the time out to congratulate the players: “I want to congratulate you all on making the national team. Represent Saint Lucia with the pride that is required of you. You all are carrying Saint Lucia on you ll little shoulders, so when you take that plane and when you walk on those grounds you will be looked at as a representative of not just Gros Islet and Babonneau (New Generation/player) but Saint Lucia. I encourage each and every one of you to do your very best and continue to strive towards even better players.”
“It will be remise of me not to mention the importance of academics because along with all my talent and skill as a young sportsman (cricket/ football and track and field athlete) if there wasn’t an amount of commitment to going on to study later on I would not have been in the position that I am today. I want to encourage all of you to take your books with you. When you have time, read something that interests you. Sports were what interested me and it worked out in the long term, because I was able to read sports and to get an income for myself and family.”
“To the coaches who continue to work very hard from the Northern United FC, the historically great team from the Gros Islet community, I want to say congratulations. A lot of people don’t know the sacrifice, the time and if there were supposed to have a value hour of the time spent in terms of coaching and nurturing the young talent I am pretty sure we will have millionaires in our midst today. Hats off to the coaches and parents from Gros Islet.”
“To the administrators, I want to say thank you, I know it is a strain, especially during this Covid 19 times, to prepare tournaments and players. Gros Islet has continued to be the goal standard for football administration in Saint Lucia, which is why Gros Islet, if they’re not football association of the year, they would have the administrator of the year; if they’re not the administrator of the year they should be organization of the year, and every year when there is football awards Gros Islet would be amongst the very best. I want to encourage you all to continue to strive for excellence, continue to put in the hard work and I want to ensure you, with me as Parliamentary Representative and Minister of Youth Development and Sports, I will provide every support that is within my purview for every single member of the Gros Islet League and in terms of capacity building, administrators, coaching and the physical development of our community,” Casimir said.
Saint Lucia 18 man squad: Rawson Harris, Deandre Tisson, Jush Hunte, LascellFaruharson, Makaay Emile, D’yami I Belasse, SamaielLouisiel, Kelvin Sylvester, Eymain Butcher, Rickelme Lionel, Lyndon Constantine, Taye Peter, Mekhi Phillip, Curtisiho Stephen, Curt Calixte, A’dee Germa, Devin Phillip and KerdimAgdoma.
On August 22nd Saint Lucia will play Saint Kitts from 5.30 p.m., the following day versus USVI at 3.30 p.m. Tuesday 24th will play Turks and Caicos at 5.30 p.m., Aruba on Thursday 26th at 1.30 p.m. and Curacao on Friday 27th at 3.30 p.m.