Going for Football Glory in 2023 and Beyond

The 2022 football world cup final between Argentina and France last Sunday may very well go down as the finest final of the tournament in modern times.

Dubbed ‘a final for the ages’ as momentum swung both ways and the 120 minutes within which the game was played were loaded with sensational moments and pulsating action, football or soccer, as it is known elsewhere, is truly the most beautiful sport in a world filled with sporting activities.

The sport is alive and well in Saint Lucia, a country rich in aspiring footballers, the majority of whom could only dream of making it into the big football leagues of the world.

Today’s subject is one we have not touched on this year but find it fitting to do so at this time, because of last Sunday’s dramatic World Cup football match between the south American team Argentina and Europe’s finest, France.

Saint Lucia is a football loving nation and while there has been individual brilliance on the pitch, the national team has not been able, of late, to bring football joy to the nation by consistently competing at the top level and winning trophies.

Saint Lucia, on the world stage is ranked 172 out of 211 nations as of December 2022, according to football’s world governing body FIFA, which also ranked Saint Lucia number 23 out of 35 countries in the North, Central America and Caribbean Zone.

However, Saint Lucia, despite its rankings, has been showing some favourable signs of progress as it puts in place an anatomy of a winning team. Working assiduously in putting such a winning structure together is the Saint Lucia Football Association (SLFA) Inc. with assistance from FIFA.

It is as a result of this work that we believe Saint Lucia has a chance at football glory, first within its zone which is the North, Central American and Caribbean (CONCACAF) by aiming for a higher ranking and internationally winning a spot at the world tournament, held every four years.

We believe that if Jamaica, in 1998 did it, Trinidad and Tobago debuted in 2006, and Haiti in 1974, so can Saint Lucia in the not-too-distant future.

However, to make the grade, a certain type of preparation must be made to change how the game is viewed in Saint Lucia by everyone, a fact the man spearheading Saint Lucia’s thrust to football glory understands, meaning Lyndon Cooper, President of the Saint Lucia Football Association Inc.

We call on the Government of Saint Lucia to side with Cooper and his team as they move to change the trajectory of the game here and put in place a team that could take Saint Lucia to the World Cup, as the country is not short on talent, both local and foreign and by lineage/parentage.

The pockets of indiscipline, lack of support for Saint Lucia football, its programmes and initiatives which surfaces now and then must be quelled if the local game must move beyond where it is today.

Affiliates of the SLFA need to work with the SLFA and not against it for football to flourish on the island. Who says we cannot have a football programme on par with other football clubs of the world, whilst engaging in constructively critical discourse.

On that note we applaud, to some degree, the football programme put out by the Ministry of Education and Sports for the schools under its jurisdiction, and under the auspices of the SLFA.

While the Ministry understands that sports, generally, are good for its charges physical and mental health, and that it helps students develop leadership skills and also equip them with the ability to set goals and build character, the Ministry also understands the final rewards one can obtain through talent and dedication to being the world’s best at a sport, and so has endeavoured to build a sporting academy to nurture the talented and dedicated young sports persons in the country.

Make no mistake, participating in sports can lead to higher self-esteem and better social interaction. It also helps students have a positive outlook on life. Athletic training and academic study are interrelated. Both are two sides of one coin. Sports in education should be an integral part of our school’s curriculum as it helps to shape students’ personality and contributes to their holistic development.

We hope that in 2023 that type of sporting programme continues. Further, we hope that the SLFA, government and all football loving Saint Lucians do their part to bring football glory to Saint Lucia since we already have the seeds that could enable us to reach such heights.

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