West Ham bring over under-20s
Two Bermuda teams, the under-20s and a Select side made up of some of the youngsters who recently played against the Oakville Blue Devils, will play against under-20 teams from West Ham United and São Miguel, of the Azores, in the Bermuda International Football Festival next week.
Double-header matches will take place next Monday, Wednesday and Friday before the top two teams in the round robin tournament meet in the final on Sunday, May 13 at the National Stadium.
“The tournament is designed to give our young men an opportunity to match their skills against their peers from other jurisdictions, measure their level of preparedness for international competitions and to interact with persons from different cultural backgrounds,” said Rick Richardson, chairman of the Football Festival Committee, yesterday.
“Essentially it should also serve to assist our coaches as they endeavour to prepare our youngsters for overseas tournaments.”
Matches begin at the National Stadium with Bermuda Under-20, coached by Ray Jones, taking on West Ham in the opening match at 6.30pm before San Miguel play the Bermuda League Select at 9.
The matches next Wednesday and Friday are scheduled for Goose Gosling Field, starting at 5.30pm and 8 on the Wednesday and 6.30pm and 9 on the Friday.
“It’s fantastic for us, again, to partner with another like-minded organisation to help further develop the game in Bermuda,” said Mark Wade, president of the Bermuda Football Association who was referring to the recent undertaking by the Bermuda Sports Management Group and Bermuda’s Brazilian Football School to bring in the Blue Devils for two matches.
Bob Camara, the São Miguel coach, is looking forward to bringing a combined under-19 and under-20 team to Bermuda for the weeklong tournament.
“First, let me express my thanks to the opportunity that has been given to us to be able to compete in this tournament,” Camara said in a long-distance call during yesterday’s press conference at the BFA office.
“From the effort that you are putting into it, it has to be successful. We hope to bring with us some quality players, we did have some trouble with the Under-19 squad as it’s probably our toughest age group to put together.
“Many of our young players go on to college and most to the mainland and from this age on we lose 35 to 40 per cent of our players because of that fact. So we will gather about four under-18s and we also have four under-20 players.
“I’m hoping we can be very competitive, do a good job and contribute to elevating your festival. There are many ways we are alike, islanders for one and there are people from the Azores living in Bermuda.”
Clyde Best, who retains close ties with West Ham, the club he played for in England, is also looking forward to seeing another West Ham youth team compete in Bermuda.
“It is important for our kids to have good opposition to play against and what better way to do it than with teams from the Azores and West Ham,” he said.
“I’m a bit partial to West Ham because that’s my former club. I’ve always liked the way that we did things when it comes to young players, so for our players to compete against other young players it is going to give them some insight on what they need to do to elevate their game to another level.
‘I think it is a great opportunity and what I say to our kids is take advantage of it because you never know where it can lead. It is going to be better for us as a country if we can do more things like this for our athletes, especially our football players, because the sky is the limit.”
Both Maurice Lowe, the BFA Technical Director, and Jones, welcome the tournament before the CFU and Concacaf championships this year.
“Some of the challenges Robert mentioned we have ourselves for this age group and this time of year, but we have put together a strong squad and it gives us an opportunity against stiff opposition to see where some of our players are,” Lowe said.
Jones added: “We’ve been trying to work with these boys in preparation of upcoming commitments and it has been a struggle with 80 per cent of the squad being overseas in college, prep schools and also some trying to pursue their football dreams. This has come along at the ideal time as we were able to assemble a squad of 20 players to come in and participate, so that we can measure where they are.
“We’re thankful for the matches and for the quality of the opposition.”
Monday, May 7
6.30pm Bermuda U-20 v West Ham U-20
9pm Sao Miguel U-20 v Bermuda Select
Wednesday, May 9
Goose Gosling Field
5.30pm West Ham U-20 v Sao Miguel U-20
8pm Bermuda U-20 v Bermuda Select
Friday, May 11
Goose Gosling Field
6.30pm Bermuda U-20 v Sao Miguel U-20
9pm Bermuda Select v West Ham U-20
Sunday, May 13
3pm Consolation final (third place v fourth place)
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