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Blackman willing

JUSTIN MARVILLE, [email protected]

Blackman willing

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Barbados may get their man after all. Derby County striker Nick Blackman is still open to playing for the senior football side after saying he hasn’t ruled out the possibility of putting on the ultramarine and gold in the near future.

Blackman expressed an interest in the national set-up earlier this week while launching today’s inaugural Walter Tull Memorial Cup at the Pinelands Youth Soccer Academy.

“Anything is possible and I’m really fond of the island and if my dad had his way it would be five or six years ago. I’ve got a lot of family here and I feel very comfortable here, so let’s see what happens,” said the 28-year-old UK-born forward.

“I’m very open to it because it would mean a lot to my father and we had a few conversations about this so it’s definitely something we will explore in the future and see what comes of it.”

The news comes six months after Barbados technical director Ahmed Mohamed said he was pursuing both Blackman and former Ipswich left back Tyrone Mings with hopes of strengthening the national squad.

Blackman’s goal-scoring prowess would be particularly welcomed by a Barbados side that couldn’t even score against the lowly rated Belize in front its own home crowd earlier this month.

And Mohamed was further drawn to Blackman because of his strong ties with the Pinelands area, where he has readily given back to the community.

“I’ll be there [today] to say a few motivational words before the tournament starts to wish everyone good luck and I will be watching eagerly to see who comes out victorious,” said Blackman of his involvement with the tournament.

“I think it’s important to give back to the people of Pinelands, who do such good work. I saw the joy on the faces of the kids last year when I came and we had a fantastic day. It’s just the next step and the next progression in our relationship and our partnership with the Pinelands youth programme.

“We’re focused on getting this tournament run as smoothly as possible and then we’ll sit down after that and see what the next progression is. I’m sure it’s going to be a really fantastic event and everyone’s looking forward to it,” he added.

The one-day under-13 tournament starts at 9 a.m. and features Pinelands, Parkinson Memorial, All Stars Elite and Whitehall FC playing in a round robin format.

The top two teams will then advance to the championship contest after the bottom pair face off in a third place play-off.

It’s all in memory of Walter Tull, who was the first black footballer to appear in a World Cup game.

Like Blackman, Tull was born to a Bajan father, and the commemorative tournament is in recognition of the 100th anniversary of his death.

“The competition would have come about due to a close relationship I have formed with Pinelands Soccer Academy since I’ve been principal of Parkinson,” said Ian Holder.

“We have been working very closely together and as soon they would have informed me at their intentions for the tournament, then it was obvious that this was an opportunity for the school to further develop that friendship and bond.” (JM)