Two pros for Olympic squad
Two English-based professionals will head the list of invitees for the Barbados Olympic football squad who recently began training for the first round of qualifiers for the Rio Olympics in 2016.
English Premier League club Chelsea’s 21-year-old goalkeeper Jamal Blackman and Mason Bennett of Championship club Derby County were called up in a 37-man named squad which will be led by long-serving coach Kenville “Kab” Layne.
Blackman is currently on loan at Championship unit Middlesbrough until January, and the highly rated custodian will be a welcome addition to the squad.
He has represented England at the Under-16, Under-17 and Under-19 age groups and is the holder of a UEFA Champions League and Europa League winner’s medal with Chelsea.
Bennett is an 18-year-old forward who became Derby County’s youngest first team player three years ago at 15 years and 99 days. He was also their youngest scorer, at 16 years and 174 days when he scored against Tranmere Rovers in the FA Cup in 2013.
Bennett has been courted by both Manchester premiership clubs but decided to continue his development at Derby. His outstanding performances have earned him national selection to the Under-16, Under-17 and Under-19 age groups for England.
Bennett’s potential link-up with one of the over-23 players, Mario Harte, will set up for an exciting prospect, with Harte’s experience, skill and eye for goal.
Barbados Defence Force Sports Programme (BDFSP) duo Dario Weir and Raheim Sargeant would be the other over-23 selected players in the squad, which will also include a number of locally-bred players who are now plying their trade in the United States on the collegiate circuit.
Heading the US-based list is IMG Academy midfielder Sebastian Hunte, who recently made his national senior team debut.
St Mary’s College defender Damien Clarke and National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) midfielders Zari Presocd of Oral Roberts University and Jason Worme of John Browne University completes the list of US-based players. (ROG)