We deserve that recognition – former national footballers
Last Monday, January 11, marked twenty-five years to the day, since St Vincent and the Grenadines senior men’s football team , which was known then as “ Team SVG”, had set foot on the Jack Murphy in San Diego, to face Mexico, in this country’s first outing in the prestigious CONCACAF Gold Cup.
To date, it has been this country’s lone appearance in the highlight tournament of the confederation.
However, this historic feat has only been recorded, but the players as well as coaching staff, are yet to be recognised, neither by successive executives of the St Vincent and the Grenadines Football Federation (SVGFF), nor other organisations.
The make up of the team that travelled to the USA back in 1996, included , Fitz- Gerald Bramble, Urtis Blackette, Verbin Sutherland, Dexter Walker, Keith Ollivierre, Ezra Hendrickson, Orande Ash, Andre Hinds, Kenlyn Gonsalves, Rohan Keizer, Kendal Velox, Everad Sam, Marlon James, Dexter Browne, Rodney Jack, Cornelius Huggins, Burton Forde, Wesley John, Tyrone Prince and Earl “ Maz I” Alexander.
The management team comprised Lenny Taylor- head coach, Verrol Henry- assistant coach, Arnold Dalrymple- manager, and Gideon Labban- trainer.
Blackette, who was the number two goal keeper to Bramble, told SEARCHLIGHT last Wednesday, that it is “ high time”, that the players and management of the team, get some sort of recognition.
“It is time we get some recognition for our accomplishment; not that we are craving attention, but I think we deserve it,” Blackette confirmed.
The background of Blackette’s venting is that the 1979 football team, which also placed second in the Caribbean tournament that same year, has received umpteenth acknowledgements.
Blackette, who currently serves as a goalkeeper coach with the national football body, underscored that various executives of the St Vincent and the Grenadines Football Federation (SVGFF) have honoured the 1979 team, with the most recent being a joint undertaking in 2019, along with the Breakaway Masters Organisations.
Then president of the SVGFF Marvin Fraser had indicated his intent to “honour” the Gold Cup squad. However, Fraser was voted out of office in 2019, and the plan never materialised.
Joining Blackette in calling for due recognition of the team is another team member, Keith Ollivierre.
The current technical director of SVG’s football Ollivierre noted : “I have been saying so for years, that we have achieved more than any other football team has done, yet we have not been recognised the same way the 1979 team has.
Olliviere views the feat of reaching the Gold Cup as worthy of some sort of national recognition.
Meanwhile, Orande Ash, who is currently based in the USA, is not amused with the prolonged disregard for their achievement of qualifying for the Gold Cup.
According to Ash, “If in 2021 the Football Federation recognises the players from the 1996 Gold Cup, and that history would be for show… One press release, one talking head video from the Federation’s president or any officers, even an officially sanctioned dinner, it all seems meaningless”.
“How can you really honour the 1995-1996 players and team?” Ash asked.
Ash said that the 1995/1996 team accomplished despite members of the executive of the SVGFF then, were not in agreement with the management’s philosophy and operations.
Opining that it is the best any national football team has accomplished, Ash said that it should be incumbent on those who hold the reins of power for St Vincent and the Grenadines’ football, to find ways to replicate what the 1995-1996 has done.
At the CONCACAF Gold Cup, St Vincent and the Grenadines lost both matches, beaten by Mexico 5-0 and by Guatemala 3-0.
This country’s qualification to the Gold Cup came about following their second place in the then Shell Caribbean Cup in 1995.