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Vincy Heat players need to be given wings

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Last Friday, this country’s senior men’s national football team (Vincy Heat) suffered a 6-1 drubbing by the USA.

The young team clearly played their hearts out in the first 10 – 15 minutes of the match and despite their defeat, they were not in any way disgraced. Sincere congratulations go out to the entire team and the coaching staff, but especially young Oalex Anderson, who scored that wonderful goal in the fifth minute.{{more}}

Going into the match, most Vincentians accepted that our players were no match for their well-conditioned, professional opponents. However, those persons viewing the game on ESPN had their feathers ruffled by the condescending terms used by the commentary team to describe our players and their homeland.

If we are really honest though, the commentary, although harsh, highlighted some issues that need to be addressed if we hope some day to take our place among the world’s footballing elite.

While our intentions are generally good, participation in football here is often viewed as an ‘evening sweat’ or ‘knock’. The USA team, ranked 33rd in the world FIFA rankings, seemingly approached the game as just another training session, while our boys, ranked 129th, gave their all in the hope of securing professional contracts and securing their futures.

It was said by the commentators during the match that this country is faced with a problem of unemployment and that most of our players are part-time, amateur footballers. While this may be hard to swallow, it’s true! Half of our players are indeed unemployed.

The team has no dedicated practice facility and those players who are employed turn up for practice after a full day’s work, and the others, not lucky enough to have a job, struggle to keep body and soul together.

For the remainder of the team’s effort to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, could some way be found to place the players on a monthly stipend, so that all their efforts could be focused on readying themselves for the task at hand.

Last Friday’s end result pretty much signalled the genesis of what we hope is the way forward for our national team. The players should all be lauded and rewarded for their valiant efforts in preparation for such major games, despite limited resources. Just as other categories of young people are rewarded for outstanding performances in academics and given wings to fly, our footballers too should be assisted in an ongoing manner in the best way that our limited resources permit.

All the best to Vincy Heat this afternoon as they tackle Guatemala in an effort to advance on the road to Russia!

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