Keith Tucker honoured to be inducted into District of Columbia Hall of Fame
Keith Tucker says he is honoured to have been inducted into the Virginia — District of Columbia Hall of Fame.
The Bermudian was granted the honour in recognition of his long services in helping to introduce and develop football at every level in the DC region from the Division 1 college to US co-ed recreational youth level.
“It’s a big honour for me because it tells me that people are paying attention and watching what I was doing,” Tucker told The Royal Gazette. “Also the reaction of the children to it because a lot of them were involved in making it happen for me.
“They were understanding that I was giving some time of my life to help them make some good decisions. So it was a good thank-you from the community and thank-you from the players.”
Tucker worked in tandem with the DC Department of Parks and Recreation, Soccer ‘94 and the US Soccer Foundation to help establish soccer programming to recreation centres in every part of DC.
He coached and inspired a legendary group of young players, both boys and girls, at the Takoma DC Recreation field, with the majority going on to attend college and graduate school.
Many of them played at the collegiate level and some for the United States national team as well as professionally.
“This is a community programme and while I was coaching at Howard I knew we were missing a large community in Washington DC,” Tucker said. “So I spent my time, and not always successful, to bring soccer to the children in the inner city.”
The former Somerset Trojans central defender and Bermuda coach initially struggled to recruit Black players as their coaches were reluctant to allow them to play football.
“The White community had been playing soccer for years but the Black community wasn’t,” Tucker added. “I tried my best to develop it and sometimes it worked out because we ran into problems with people not wanting to give up their American football players to soccer.”
The players, coaches ultimately had a change of heart after realising the benefits to be gained from having their players involved in both sports.
“Once they found it was a good sport for all up-and-coming football players to work on their co-ordination and so forth it was accepted a little easier,” Tucker said. “It wasn’t easy but the guys enjoyed themselves and we started a little league and they were introduced to international soccer and went to the World Cup.
“It was a long period and we introduced them in as many ways as we possibly could. We took the team that I formed to England and we played West Ham, Liverpool and Ajax so it was a good experience for the guys.
“It wasn’t all about soccer. It was about growing up so we kind of blended our programme with role models who were able to give back to the community.”
Tucker became the head coach of Howard University in 1981 and went on to serve in the role for 27 years, in which he helped mentor the likes of former Premier League goalkeeper Shaka Hislop, who enjoyed a stellar top-flight career with West Ham, Newcastle United and Portsmouth.
During that period he was named Division 1 Men’s Coach of the year by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America.
He also played varsity football for the Division 1 Howard University Bison under coach Lincoln Phillips.
“I followed some good advice from Johnny Nusum who told me to go check out my boys up there at Howard because I was trying to get in his school,” Tucker added. “I went down to New York and met up with Stan Smith and Donnie Simmons and those guys who introduced me to the coach and I got an opportunity to show my talents.
“It all started there when I was told I had the ability to receive a scholarship and my new dream had just opened up.”