Legends rewarded for inspiring next generation
Players and officials of the past were remembered when the Bermuda Football Association held their Night of Legends awards last Friday at the Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute.
Honoured were Carlyle Crockwell for dedicated years of service as a referee, goalkeepers from different eras Dennis Wainwright and Lew Simmons, and defenders Johnny Nusum and Lorenzo Symonds. It was something that did not go unnoticed by guest speaker Jason Roberts, the Concacaf director of development.
“I’m hugely impressed by the concept of this event tonight, because I believe this is hugely important to the growth of football in our region,” said Roberts, the former West Bromwich Albion, Wigan Athletic and Blackburn Rovers striker.
“These people have given a whole lot to our sport and it is essential if we are going to continue to grow. I’d like to give a hand to everybody who is being acknowledged today.
“My belief is that football is the greatest game in the world, an avenue for social change and has the opportunity to inspire people.
“People fall in love with football because of the contributions of people like this and because of the most important actors, the players on the pitch.
“We’re all here because we felt that moment, and I remember that moment very clearly ... six years old, 1984, John Barnes picks up the ball, goes past one player, goes past another player. It felt like he beat 23 players, then doubled back and put the ball in the net.
“That was the moment that inspired me, I wanted to be like him and act like him and play football like him. I didn’t get anywhere near those levels but that’s the inspiration that football can give you and John Barnes gave me that.”
Symonds, a former Devonshire Colts and Bermuda captain, was represented at the awards by his son Lozendro, a midfielder for Robin Hood who, too, started his football at Devonshire Colts.
He spoke of how his father inspired him as a youngster playing the game.
“He was able to play alongside a lot of gifted players and was a true student of the game,” Symonds said.
“It just blows my mind how much he cares about this sport, even to this day he still tries to play at 60 years old.
“He was one of those first-to-train-last-to-leave types, a coach’s dream, some would say. When you mix that dedication with raw talent you end up with an exceptional player who went on to achieve great things. He was an excellent player, a better father, a true legend.”
In between there were many others honoured, including Order of Merit awards going to those who contributed to football as administrators, like Duane Dickinson, Llewellyn Wainwright, a North Village founding member, Donorda Smith, a former PHC Zebras president, Saleem Talbot of X-Roads and Appleby, a sponsor of youth football.
The night ended with Marco Warren, another player who followed his father, Dwight Warren, into the game, winning the MVP award after an outstanding season with PHC who won league, Charity Cup, Friendship Trophy and Dudley Eve Trophy titles.
“First and foremost I’ve got to thank God, even though he left me to be a little ‘vertically challenged’,” Warren said, joking about his height. “But also he has given me the gifts to play the game and the passion and drive that I have.
“In life you need some sort of passion and drive, which helps you get through. Also I want to thank my mom Wendy Warren, my grandpa Randy Bean, my dad Dwight Warren and papa [Earl Townsey] Russell, the head of the Russells. Just everybody, because in Bermuda it does take a village to raise a child.
“I also have kids who look up to me as well, although not very far, but I want them to go home having seen the best of me.
“If all I’m known for was to be a good footballer then I’ve done a bad job with the rest of my life.”
PHC dominated the honours, winning not just team and individual honours like MVP, Coach of the Year (Scott Morton), Goalkeeper of the Year (Quinaceo Hunt) and Young Player of the Year (Daren Usher) but also the Premier Division Fair Play Award for deportment. Southampton Rangers took the First Division Fair Play Award.
Mark Wade, the BFA president, called on unity in local football as the Bermuda team gets set to participate in the inaugural Concacaf Nations League later this year.
“We’re 62,000 people, 3,000 players and we’re soaring at heights that we haven’t been before, but yet here we are,” Wade told the audience.
“We’re not going to be able to go any further without unity. One of the things we used to say in my past life is that the war and the competition is on the field between the white lines. Everywhere else we must have unity.”
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