Goater aims to bring big names to Bermuda
Shaun Goater has major plans for the Bermuda International Football Festival and hopes to sprinkle some stardust on next year's event by bringing in top former players.
Goater returned to Bermuda for the inaugural event at the National Stadium on Saturday and believes it has huge potential, with plans already under way to expand it with an International Star Sevens tournament.
The former Manchester City striker said he is determined to help grow the festival into “something bigger and better” and aims to use his extensive contacts to attract top names such as Ryan Giggs and Dwight Yorke to the sevens tournament.
“We're looking at bringing in big names that people will recognise and who will help create more hype around the event,” said Goater, a committee member along with former Bermudian professionals Clyde Best and David Bascome.
“I'm connected with a lot of players in the UK, doing some of the TV stuff, and at the gym where I work out Ryan Giggs and Dwight Yorke are in there — although we have different training regimes as some of us are at different levels!
“Once we can secure the budget we can get names like that over here and really build some hype around this event.”
Goater is confident the island's football-mad public would embrace such a competition and pointed to the success of the World Rugby Classic which has been a staple in the Bermuda sporting calendar for more than 25 years.
Cricket, too, has been given the “golden oldies” treatment, with the T20 World Cricket Classic being held at North Field in 2006, although the star-studded slog-a-thon folded after one year because of heavy financial losses.
And Goater admits that securing financial support — whether from government or corporate sponsorship — will be crucial in realising the committee's vision of the festival.
“The conversations that have been had are, ‘Why not?'” said Goater, who retired from professional football in 2006. “The truth be told, no one has ever really tried anything like this and I think things are in place for it to happen.
“We have the overseas network between Clyde Best, David Bascome in America and myself in England to influence people and get big names over here.
“I think the future bodes well for this festival and I think it's something people in Bermuda will get really excited about.”
This year's event, aimed at reaching at-risk youths in the wake of ongoing violence on the island, included a National Academy Under-14 match, an all-star game featuring top domestic players as well as a performance by United States freestyle football champion Frankie Gonzalez.
Local and overseas artists also took the stage for a concert during the evening on Saturday.
“I thought it was a tremendous occasion and this event will grow into something bigger and better,” Goater added.
“This was the first event and it has to start somewhere, and I think it was great for the young kids to come out and showcase their talent.
“Being in England, quite a distance from here, it really feels like something like this is needed to encourage the kids and keep them on the straight and narrow.”