Lightbourne calls for commitment
Kyle Lightbourne will have further discussions with the Bermuda Football Association about taking over as Bermuda coach on a permanent basis.
Lightbourne, who has been in charge on an interim basis since Andrew Bascome stepped down last August after five years, is excited about what lies ahead, with the Concacaf League of Nations to start in September.
The 49-year-old previously coached the national side from 2005 to 2007 and at present leads a Bermuda Under-20 side including several players pushing for a senior call-up.
“I'm due to have an interview about taking the job,” said Lightbourne, who served as Bascome's assistant coach. “I put my name forward for the job after coach Bascome resigned.”
The BFA announced yesterday that Bermuda will travel to Antigua and Barbuda, and Barbados, next month for two friendly matches in preparation of the League of Nations.
Lightbourne is keeping an open mind about the make-up of the squad and has urged the overseas and local-based players to commit to being a part of what promises to be an exciting tournament.
“This is an opportunity for those who have been involved in the national programme for the last couple of years or so,” Lightbourne said. “This is an opportunity for them to get themselves in shape if they want to be a part of it.
“We have no excuses about not knowing when the next games are coming, this allows the coaching staff and everyone at the BFA to approach it in a manner that we haven't been able to approach games because they are so few and far between.
“We played a game against Barbados not too long ago and now we've got another opportunity to play another two games. It gives us the opportunity to build on the last game that we had, knowing there are going to be more games after that.
“From a national team standpoint it's very good; we're training with a purpose now. We've got a pool of players that we can pick from; we can look at a few guys and obviously bring a few back from overseas.”
Lightbourne named Angelo Simmons, the Dandy Town Hornets captain, North Village goalkeeper Tahj Bell and Naeem Griffith, the PHC Zebras defender, as players he would like to be involved. Jason Lee, the former Village striker, now living in England, is another player in Lightbourne's thoughts.
“It's an opportunity for all the players to show their interest, then it's up to the coaching staff to pick the team we think is best for the occasion.
“We had our first training session last week, but some of the top players would have been focusing on their clubs because of the top four teams playing one another.
“We're hoping it's going to be a greater turnout this week. Now that the tour has been released, the players can see that they have an opportunity to play for their country again.
“I watch enough games but sometimes you may miss a player, however, the usual candidates do stand out. Some guys may think, ‘I'm not sure if the coach is going to like me', but if you don't put yourself in that position you'll never know.”
Lightbourne stressed the door was open to any local players looking to be part of his plans. “From when coach Bascome had the team and I was his assistant, there isn't too much that is going to change,” he said. “We have a list of 40 to 50 players we look at. It's a great opportunity for the players who are based here in Bermuda who want that chance to play at a higher level.
“I look at somebody like ‘Beach' [Angelo Simmons] who, for whatever reason, has been in and out of the national programme and hasn't quite achieved it, but has all the potential to do so. I was very impressed with Robert Rawlings [who played against Barbados at home in October]; he just gave us a different option and has pace, and is fearless. There are a lot of players who we can look at.”
Lightbourne quit as Robin Hood coach last summer after leading them to a maiden league title to go with their first FA Cup triumph the previous season.
“The league and FA Cup was, without a doubt, the highlight,” said Lightbourne, who coached PHC when they last won the league title in 2007-08.
“The main reason I stepped down from Robin Hood is I needed to go on and do my [Uefa] A licence. If I'm coaching a team I'm going to find it hard to concentrate on that, whereas the national programme is not a week in and week out job.”