Times have changed, says boss
Bermuda head coach Devarr Boyles has defended his team’s World Cup preparations and called the days of drawn-out training camps prior to a competition a thing of the past.
With Bermuda’s opening qualifier in less than a fortnight, some of the football fraternity have questioned why the team only started training last week as well as the absence of any friendly matches.
Previous qualifying campaigns have seen Bermuda squads begin their build-up three months before their first match, with several on-Island friendlies against both local and foreign opposition.
However, Boyles believes that’s no longer feasible and feels a number of contributory factors behind Bermuda’s perceived late preparations have been overlooked by their critics.
With more top players based overseas than ever before, Boyles said it had become increasingly difficult to assemble a first choice squad for more than a few days prior to a game.
“Many people seem to feel there’s been ill-preparation, but our preparation plans have been in front of people for the past two years; it’s just they are not their sort of preparations.” said Boyles, who was recently appointed as the team’s head coach.
“I think a lot of that’s due to their mindset because people have to realise that there’s a new tipping point in Bermuda football right now.
“Two or three World Cups ago you had a preparation period of three months which was heavily locally based because that’s where the majority of our players were. Also, back then we were in the preliminary round and everyone knew when they started.
“There would be a long honeymoon period with practice games against the local clubs and that would create a buzz in the country. I get all that, I really do, but now we have more and more players off Island in the US, Canada and the UK, so you just can’t do that anymore.”
As for the lack of friendlies, Boyles said the loss of $250,000 of annual Government funding meant the Bermuda Football Association had been forced to cut their cloth accordingly.
He also pointed out that over the past two years the Bermuda Hogges a team featuring more than 50 percent of the current national team squad had played 32 matches, both home and away.
“The BFA’s Strategic Plan in 2008-9 projected for us to disband the then national team and focus on our under-23 players; that part has been done,” said Boyles, who is also the Bermuda Football Association’s youth director.
“We always knew we had to reinstitute the national team at some point and based on the level of funding we had in 2009, we probably thought we would have been able to rev it up a bit more. However, with funding removed the emphasis shifted to what sort of agreement we could reach with the Bermuda Hogges and they became a big part of our preparations. A lot comes down to funding and we just don’t have huge levels of funding.”
Bermuda’s preparations will be stepped up later this week when a squad of 20 players head to Florida for an intensive training camp ahead of their match against Trinidad on September 2. Boyles said his players were in good spirits ahead of Friday’s trip and were “ready to seize the moment”.
“We will be having a training camp in Florida where the conditions are very similar to the Caribbean,” he said.
“The training base will get the players in the mindset for competitive football. The facilities include both natural grass pitches as well as artificial surfaces, which is important, as we don’t know where we’re playing yet.
“It will be a good opportunity for us to consolidate the two groups: the overseas-based players and the local-based players. The players are buzzing right now and are ready to seize the moment, especially the older ones who more aware of the magnitude of this competition.”
Bermuda’s Group B fixtures
Trinidad (a) September 2
Guyana (h) September 6
Trinidad (h) October 7
Guyana (a) October 11
Barbados (h) November 11
Barbados (a) November 15
Bermuda’s provisional squadGoalkeepers: F Hall, T Bell, J Williams, M Crockwell, D Johnson Defenders: T Manders, D Cox, R Trott, R Lee, M Waldron, K Tucker, K Darrell, J Seymour Midfielders: J Swan, C Caisey, S DeGraff, J Jennings, K Bean, K Steede, S Darrell, T Tucker, L Symonds, Z Lewis Forwards: K Smith, R Lambe, N Wells, J Barry Nusum, T Burgess, D Coddington, D Ming, A Simmons, A Russell, L Dill, Q Maynard