Berkshire coach aims to recruit local talent
The head coach of Berkshire School has been on island looking for the next Bermudian footballer to follow in the footsteps of Zeiko Lewis and Justin Donawa.
Charlie Bour is in his second year at the Massachusetts school — whose alumni include Lewis, Donawa and Ahria Simons, who graduated this year — and was in Bermuda last week recruiting for more talented locals.
“We’re here looking for quality student-athletes for Berkshire School,” Bour said. “In the US, boarding school’s a more holistic experience. Don’t get me wrong, we have kids who will end up playing at the Division I levels in college and universities in the US. Some will go on to play professional soccer as well.
“Zeiko and Justin Donawa were at Berkshire before. I arrived at Berkshire with my family this past year. I was previously at the Loomis Chaffee School [in Windsor, Connecticut] for six years. But certainly the Bermudians in the prep-school soccer leagues are, essentially, famous.
“They are very well known, not only on the pitch, but also in the way of their leadership, as community members on campus at Berkshire, and the one that I know best is Ahria Simons. I was fortunate to spend his final year with him. And it was great getting to know him as an individual and him schooling me a little bit about Bermudian culture and players here.
“Certainly, he’s one of the main reasons why I came, as well, in addition to Richard Todd and Richard Calderon [of the Bermuda Football Coaches Association] and a couple of others who have set this whole thing up for us, which has been great. Just the amazing examples of great human beings; not just soccer players, but also excellent students.”
Bour is keen on extending Berkshire’s connection with the island. “John Moody [was] the father/builder of what is now Berkshire soccer now,” he explained. “He had recruited very heavily here and indicated that I should check out Bermuda very strongly, right from the get-go.
“There’s no doubt that for an island of 65,000 people, the amount of talent that continues to be produced in a place of this size is just absurd. Not mention the fact that what’s very peculiar is that level of talent, coupled with the very high interest in academic avenue, not just the footballing avenue, in a culture that’s clearly very aware of the education and the future of a young person. Those two factors make it ideal for recruiting for prep schools.”
Part of his recruiting strategy is cultivating strong relationships with families, which also has its benefits for Bour. Indeed, he even got a stylish beard trim here.
“Tyrese Caines is a young Bermudian guy who will be attending Berkshire as a sophomore and we have another young man by the name of Marcos Furr, and he’ll start in the same year,” Bour said. “I went over to Tyrese’s mother’s barber shop and hair salon. She really hooked me up [with the beard]. One of her barbers gave me a little shape up!
“Maybe it’s my own individual philosophy, but I think getting to know your players and their families is superimportant, if not more important than just the soccer part of it. It’s a two-way thing; I have two young children as well and they’re growing up around these great kids and they’re good role models for them.”
And for Todd, the benefits of such a relationship with the BFCA and Bermudian football in general are obvious.
“The educational pathway has always been one of importance for players,” he said. “It’s an avenue I took when I left Bermuda; going off and obtaining an education and continuing my football development.
“We believe that it’s a pathway that suits and services more of our players. All of them may have that passion and desire to want to play pro, but we know realistically that the numbers who make it to that top level are very small.
“But when you look at the number of players who have gone the educational route, heading off to the prep schools and boarding schools, the benefits heading into college, gaining educational degrees from some of the most prestigious universities and then coming back to the island and becoming more productive citizens, we think that it is serving the benefit of the game and then the players in a holistic manner.
“Bermuda’s been a very fertile recruting ground and we have a number of coaches that come in throughout the year. Charlie is just continuing along the lines of the recruiting tradition that has already been established at Berkshire and we try to assist as many of them as we can, to expose them to the level of talent and players that are here.
“We also try to help players and parents in terms of the process: ‘how do I identify a school that is right for me? How do I choose a school? How do I go about applying? What is the process of financial aid etc?’ So, not only putting and organising the talent and the matches for him to view, but also the open presenatation that players and parents can come to.
“As we’ve spoken of the likes of Zeiko, Justin and most recently Ahria, they are just the latest in a long line of tradition that goes back to Berkshire and the New England area over decades. We’re glad to be able to connect with the coaches and connect the coaches with the parents and just open up the avenues for our players.”
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