Cash-strapped Town play on
Dandy Town have confirmed they will take part in this month's CFU Club Championships qualifiers despite still having a $20,000 hole in their budget.
Hornets play Trinidad's Defence Force next Thursday at BAA Field in the first leg of their tie, but are still some way short of the $50,000 it will cost for the away leg in the Caribbean on March 19.
Pot Luck dinners and an appeal to the local community has raised a little more, while the Bermuda Football Association (BFA) have stepped in and given them $20,000 towards their target. But despite the shortfall, BFA player development committee chairman, Mark Wade, said the defending Premier Division champions would definitely be representing the Island in both legs regardless of whether they manage to raise the cash in time.
“There's certainly a partnership between Dandy Town and the BFA and they will certainly be playing in the two legs,” he said.
With the first leg less than a week away, the club are also hoping that the Island will turn out and support them in large numbers, which in itself could raise funds through gate receipts.
Town president Cecil Lewis said: “It's still an issue and we're still working on it. Hopefully the home match will help us out a little, but were still far off the mark.
“We asked for some help from some neighbourhood businesses but it wasn't very positive. Hopefully at the last minute the public or any businesses will come and give us a helping hand. We're still $20,000 short and that's quite a bit.”
In terms of preparation, Hornets' 22-man roster has successfully completed mandatory drugs tests in compliance with World Anti Doping Association (WADA) regulations, with coach Jomar Wilkinson having near enough a full squad to pick from.
“All of our players have passed the drugs tests so everyone's available to us, we're looking forward to some stiff competition,” said Wilkinson. “We know very little about Defence Force but expect them to be very organised. Our club is very excited about it and we're eager to do Bermuda proud. Our overseas-based players Daniel Johnson, Dante Leverock and Shannon Burchall are in the squad, but Antonio Lowe is unavailable.”
Wilkinson admitted the club had failed in their efforts to persuade ex-player, and former MLS star, Khano Smith, to turn out for them. Smith has been without a side since being released by New England Revolution late last year and is currently coaching in the United States.
“We talked about it but he's unavailable to us,” said Wilkinson. “It would have been nice to have (Khano) though.”
Hornets skipper Damon Ming has encouraged the club's younger players not to be fazed by the higher level of competition and is happy to lend a shoulder for any less experienced team-mates' to lean on.
“I'm going to try and encourage the players and keep them motivated. I'll look to give them positive feedback and try and keep them in a positive frame of mind,” said Ming.
“We've got many players who have international experience but obviously for our younger boys it will be something completely new. Hopefully I can try and let them know what to expect.”
For Hornets it will be the second time they have played in the Championships. Back in 1989 they lost in the first round against Brooklyn Italians.
President Lewis added: “That team was coached by Curly Joe who is still involved in our set-up. It's a tournament we're looking forward to entering for a second time.”
Last year saw Devonshire Cougars travel to St. Vincent for the Championships where they drew with hosts Avenues 2-2, before losing to Suriname's Leo Victor 5-2 and Trinidad's Joe Public 7-3.