Jones takes pride from squad’s development
Watching the current Bermuda team play gives assistant coach Ray Jones special satisfaction, particularly as ten of them were together in the Bermuda under-12 team years ago.
Jones was one of the coaches that took under-12, under-14 and under-15 teams to Dallas for tournaments and remembers the under-12 team containing the likes of Danté Leverock, Zeiko Lewis, Dale Eve, Lejaun Simmons, Jaylon Bather, Willie Clemons, Tre Ming, Jonte Smith, Jalen Harvey and Donte Brangman. All are now members of the Bermuda national team, with Leverock the captain.
“Reflecting on it, this journey started with this group of boys 12 or 13 years ago when we took about ten of these boys on Dallas trips with the BFA under-12, under-14 and under-15 teams,” said Jones, the head coach of the Bermuda under-20 team. “To see that, the seed that was planted so long ago has come to fruition. With me being in the programme for a good period of time, I just think it is an upward trajectory.
“We’re implementing a lot of things and the soft side of the game, like sports science, is allowing us to compete.
“We always hear the story that we’re technically good enough, but normally fitness and other things let us down. Now the coaches have good coaching education, so technically we prepare ourselves a lot better.
“With the Nations League we’re getting games more regularly and we’re seeing the boys grow, just from the Haiti game to the Costa Rica game.
“We videotape everything and then sit down with the boys and go through things that went wrong and then try to correct it in the next game.
“With Kyle’s experience of having been in the professional arena and bringing all that to the table and challenging the BFA, it’s a pleasure to be on this ride and hopefully it gives the people something to strive for.
I’ve always said, if you have a successful national team then hopefully our domestic league will recover because there is something for the local player.”
Jones and Scott Morton were assistant coaches to Lightbourne as Bermuda made their debut in the Gold Cup with three tough matches.
Jones picked up a booking in the Nicaragua match on Monday, and said he knew right away what some people back home might be thinking when they watched on television as he got the second half yellow card.
Jones was booked for shouting something from the bench, though he insists it wasn’t as bad as it looked, saying a group of those on the bench shouted “our ball” in unison after the ball went out of play.
“With my reputation, everybody in Bermuda was probably thinking ‘what’s he saying now’,” Jones acknowledged. “The booking was funny; all I could do was laugh. I guess it was because I was on that end of the bench that was closest to the referee.
“We all appealed because our player and their player came together and the ball went out. Even when we asked for an explanation, it was kind of ‘wishy-washy’.
I’m sure people were thinking ‘Ray, getting in trouble again’.”
Head coach Lightbourne is calling for changes in the football structure in Bermuda in order to keep improving the game. “We have to possibly look at changing the school structure that we have,” he suggested.
“If we do everything right we can breed winners, a good country as well. We have to make changes to make things a lot better for the next generation coming along.
“We’re going to look to keep the squad together, bring other players in and toughen up the competition.
“That’s the way it is; that’s a part of life. There is always someone looking to take your place.”
Osagi Bascome, whose perfect pass to Lejuan Simmons set up the first Bermuda goal against Nicaragua, is excited to be a part of the national set-up.
“That was our style going into the tournament, trying to work out from the back and I think we did it well against some big countries and showed them we can play football,” said the midfielder whose uncles Andrew and David Bascome are former Bermuda internationals.
“That’s our identity; we’re not big players, so we have to use our technique and talent to move the ball forward.”