Dudfield hails Bermuda’s young talent
Lawrie Dudfield, a former professional football player, believes the game has a bright future in Bermuda, both for its young players and the national team as a whole.
Dudfield, the former Leicester City and Hull City striker is on island as part of the Iconz Experience company’s EPL Summer Soccer Camps, which are running in association with Young Men’s Social Club and sanctioned by the Bermuda Football Association.
Having cast his eye over Bermuda’s talented youngsters, Dudfield has been impressed with the level of ability on offer, believing that the raw potential matches, if not outweighs, what he has seen in the United States.
“I live in America for the majority of my time nowadays and, I’ll be honest, the level here is every bit as good, if not better than, America,” said Dudfeild, who first visited the island last year with the company he cofounded alongside former Manchester United, Leeds and England striker Alan Smith, Micky Adams, former Leicester City manager and Mike Edwards, formerly of Hull City and Notts County.
“The level is very high among the young players and one key thing we’ve learnt is that there are natural athletes on the island. There are some good raw football players and hopefully they can see the positive example set by former and current professionals.
“There is a real willingness to learn and the pleasing thing is that there was a lad involved last year who eventually went on to have a trial with Brighton and Hove Albion and Mansfield Town.
“That is the end goal for us here, to try and create a pathway for players to be given an opportunity to try and impress.
“I’d never say everyone will get that chance, but there is a lot of talent here and if we can help give them an opportunity, then that is what we will do.”
As well as the camp for 8 to 15 year-olds, Dudfield’s company is also hosting a trials event for players over the age of 16, in association with Salford City, a club co-owned by former Manchester United stars David Beckham, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Gary and Phil Neville and Nicky Butt.
Dudfield cited the recent success of Bermudian Kane Crichlow, who has impressed in his first few months since signing for Premier League outfit Watford, as an inspiration to fellow young players on island.
“I recently spoke to the academy manager over at Watford and he’s told me that they’re coming over later this year, specifically because of how impressed they’ve been by Kane Crichlow,” said Dudfield, speaking at the Clyde Best Centre of Excellence.
“He told me that since he came in, he’s been their best under-23s player and they really rate him highly. They’ve now seen there’s talent on the island and they want to come over and see what other talent is here.
“Having Salford here is also really big because I’m here to show them that being at a football club at any level is a massive deal and a huge opportunity to enjoy a career in the professional game.
“People seem to think that if you don’t make it to the Premier League you’ve failed, but that is certainly not the case.
“Playing in the lower leagues is an incredible achievement, particularly for players for a country as small as here.
“Salford, for example, are a really progressive club and with the backing they have and the former professionals involved, there’s no way they’re going to sit in the lower leagues for a long time.
To have them here is a huge opportunity for local players to come out, try and catch the eye and possibly secure a trial.”
With the recent success of Bermuda at the Concacaf Gold Cup, where Kyle Lightbourne’s team exceeded all expectations in an historic first appearance at the tournament, Dudfield commended the Bermuda Football Association on the foundations being laid on and off the field.
“You can see the good work that has been done already on the island and the foundations that have been put down for not only the present, but the future as well,” he added.
“You can also see the fantastic job that Kyle Lightbourne is doing with the national team.
“The bar has been raised massively and we hope that everyone coming through aspires to reach those levels regularly.
“Bermuda have done exceptionally to do as well as they have; they’ve out-performed all expectations. That can only have a hugely positive impact.
“This isn’t a huge place, but I genuinely believe the future is incredibly bright for Bermuda and, for such a small island, the possibilities are very exciting, I believe they will keep growing and growing.”