Hope for national teams
The Barbados senior men’s football team will boast two English international players by the end of this month when Nick Blackman of Derby County and Omar Beckles from League One join their ranks.
This was revealed by the Barbados Football Association’s (BFA) technical director Ahmed Mohamed in a media briefing at the association’s Wildey headquarters on Thursday.
“From the national team side, we are having one or two top international players. We are awaiting their paperwork, which I should have by the end of this month,” he said.
The men’s senior team are scheduled to play several friendly games ahead of the CONCACAF League of Nations in September, beginning with Bermuda on March 25.
Meanwhile, the women’s national team will start their World Cup Qualifiers campaign in May. Before that, they will play two friendly matches: against Martinique on January 27, and against St Kitts on March 25.
Mohamed said he was looking to improve the teams’ FIFA rankings this year, after moving the senior men’s position from 181 to 150, while they got as much exposure as possible by playing as many games as they could.
“As you all see, we are improving. We are doing our work . . . . The Barbados people will see more games than before.
“We have at least seven national teams in competition. I don’t know if that happened before, you can correct me, [but] we’re looking forward to push our boys and girls, men and women to go as far as we can,” he said.
However, the prized jewel of the BFA is currently the Under-17 national team, under head coach Renaldo “PeeWee” Gilkes, who last year won 20 of the 22 games they played.
“Our Under-17 is the team. Last year they really had a great year . . . . This year is another category; they are older and we are hoping and we are positive to reach at least the Caribbean Cup,” Mohamed said.
“For their preparation we are going to start with a tournament in Martinique next month from February 16 to 19.”
The technical director also said that the Under-20 boys will compete in a tournament in Cayman Islands against Cuba, Honduras and Cayman Islands, in addition to competing in the Caribbean Cup.
The younger players [from seven to under-13] will also play in their National Youth Cup, which kicks off at the beginning of April.
“Our youth will play this year at least 21 games, so every club will play at least nine games during that time. The Youth League will follow in August and end in December,” said Mohamed.
“What we are looking to do is double up more the youth football, and give them the opportunity to improve from game to game.
“The reason is simple; because when we play against other countries in the youth categories, we’re playing against players who had a long season with at least 18 to 22 games. We don’t want to have any more gaps in between Barbadian players and global players,” he said.
In addition to those plans, the Grass Roots programme has begun in earnest and will run until year end.
“We are going to select four schools in order to do a new project from CONCACAF Grass Roots,” Mohamed said.
“We also have planned this year a girl’s competition, with the primary and secondary school leagues to be started in March-April.
“Our main goal is to ensure we have enough players coming from the youth side to the senior women’s league. (RA)