Old guard enjoying Corona League
More senior players are making the switch to the Corona League from the Premier and First Divisions, lowering the average age of players in the Bermuda Football Association divisions.
Kijuan Franks felt the time was right to leave Devonshire Cougars for the “more laid-back” Corona League, where he is playing for Footy Kings.
Another defender, Johnny Ball of PHC Zebras, has made the switch to Lock & Key, where he has joined former PHC team-mates Stephen Astwood, Anwar Hunt, Chris Furbert, Lonnie Bascome, Blenn Bean, Kevin Lambe and Omar Shakir.
At Footy Kings, last season’s BTC Cup champions, Franks is playing alongside Kevin Hurdle, formerly of Dandy Town, Jared Peniston, previously of Town and Wolves, and goalkeeper Gregory Rose, who was at Devonshire Colts last season.
Franks and Rose made their debuts in a 3-0 defeat to West End United in the Coronita Cup earlier this month.West End United, the league champions, had former Somerset Eagles goalkeeper Lorenzo Lambert making his debut in that match at Goose Gosling Field.
“I know I’m done with the Premier Division; it was just time to go onto something different,” said Franks, 36, who won the Dudley Eve and Friendship Trophy with Cougars last season.
“The guys I spoke to were looking for something more laid-back, but still kind of competitive. The Corona League is getting more competitive. Everybody has a good time; I’m enjoying the laid-back atmosphere.
“The decision had been coming for me; I gave Cougars one season and told them it would be my last.”
Another new player at Footy Kings is Oronde Bascome, but his stay will be brief as he is using the Corona League to get fit after a late transfer from First Division St George’s Colts to Devonshire Cougars.
It is the same situation with Allan Douglas Jr, who is with Tuff Dogs prior to joining Cougars from St David’s on a late transfer next month.
West End United started the season with a 3-3 draw with Lock & Key, for whom Ball and Lambe scored in the second half along with Astwood. West End United and Footy Kings have the two largest squads, with 40 players registered by West End for the 2017-18 season while Footy Kings have 35 players.
North Village Rams marked their return to the league with a 5-0 thrashing of Bermuda Regiment, a new addition to the league, with Ralph Bean Jr among the scorers.
Ball, who is a former PHC president, felt the time was right at the age of 32 to step down to allow youngsters like Kadeem Abraham and Diondre Lightbourne get more opportunities at left back.
“Towards the end of last season I informed [assistant coach] Robert Bean that it was going to be my last season,” Ball said.
“The Corona League is a quality alternative for a player around my age, so I’m looking to have fun and maintain a level of fitness as well.
“The main reason I joined Lock & Key is that a lot of former PHC players play for them, so that was the incentive.
“Last year the quality [of the league] improved and I’m just happy to be a part of it and look to enjoy it with Lock & Key.
“As far as not playing for the Premier Division team, I think it was time for me at my age, having won all the trophies they had to offer, to give the younger players more opportunities to express themselves. We have a great youth programme at the club and I think it’s time for some of the younger players to be able to play week in, week out.”
Added Ball: “I’m enjoying my time as a [PHC] fan as opposed to playing. I’ll continue to support PHC but from the sidelines. I’ve just missed one or two games this season but have been to all the league games. It’s a new dynamic, watching from the sideline, but I’m enjoying it.
“In my position Kadeem Abraham is doing really well, Diondre Lightbourne played at left back on Sunday and he’s one for the future. It helps me rest better at night knowing the team is in good hands with a good coach like Scott Morton and some quality young players coming through.”
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