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‘I feel like I was robbed’ - Antwan Russell hits out after losing coach of year award

Paget Lions player-coach Antwan Russell at the BFA’s Awards Ceremony (File photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Antwan Russell claims he was “robbed” of a prestigious award at the Bermuda Football Association’s Award Ceremony on Saturday night.

Despite having led Paget Lions to the First Division and Shield double and the semi-final of the FA Cup, which involves teams from the top tier, he was overlooked for the coach of the year award, which was given to his Young Men’s Social Club counterpart Michael Smith.

“I think this is a slap in the face for me with all of the hard work I have done throughout the season as far as playing and coaching,” Russell told The Royal Gazette. “It’s hard coaching, so to do both was extra hard.

“No disrespect to the guy who won it and congratulations to him. It’s not his fault that the BFA gave it to him, but I beat him in a final and won one trophy off him.

Social Club gained promotion on the last day of the season only because Paget beat Wolves, who were in second position, on the final day of the season and Russell believes that should have been taken into consideration.

“On the last day of the season, Social Club needed Paget to win, Russell said. ”Realistically I got Social Club and Paget promoted because I could have laid down against Wolves and Wolves would have come up and I still would have got promoted.

“To be honest I think this is the biggest slap in my face and that’s why I didn’t make a speech the other night because I didn’t have anything nice to say at the time because truthfully, I feel like I was robbed.

“It’s like a kid that cfinishes in second place every time on sports day and the kid that gets all first places doesn’t win champion boy.

“What I do I have to do to win it? Do I have to go the whole season undefeated? I really don’t understand and it’s something I really can’t wrap my mind around.

“The reason I didn’t want to speak the other night is because I think people would have taken it as me being sour because I didn’t win it, but looking back in hindsight I am sour and I have every right to be.

“Not only did I win the league, I won the Shield and was in the last four of all the teams in Bermuda in the FA Cup.

“Like I said, no disrespect to the guy that won it, but to me it doesn’t get any more blatant than what they done to me.”

The Royal Gazette reached out to the BFA seeking insight into the voting process for awards, such as the criteria required for nominees and whether one or more selection committees are involved, but have yet to receive a reply.

Russell was denied what would have been an impressive treble after he was voted as the First Division’s most valuable player and leading goalscorer with 25 goals.

Paget dominated the First Division awards with Zaire Weller voted the young player of the year and Julian Carpenter defensive player of the year.

The controversy surrounding Russell was not the only surprise during the BFA’s Awards Ceremony as Danvers Seymour Jr was overlooked for the Senior Women’s League coach of the year award despite guiding Somerset Cricket Club to league and Knockout Cup honours.

The west enders were also overlooked for the most valuable player of the year award and defensive player of the year awards despite conceding only three goals in the league.

PHC coach Robert Bean was voted as Senior Women’s League coach of the year award while the defensive player of the year award went to Dandy Stars’ K'Xiyae Gibbons.

Gibbons recently grabbed headlines for all the wrong reasons after being sent off while representing the national team at this month’s Concacaf Women’s Under-20 Championship Qualifiers in Nicaragua.

The midfielder, who had been substituted midway through the second half of the game against Jamaica, needed to be restrained by coaches and officials after first kicking an opposing player and then appearing to throw a punch as the teams took part in what had been cordial post-match handshakes.

Gibbons then reacted badly to being shown a red card, again attempting to reach the opposing team before being headed off by a Jamaican official and a member of the Bermuda backroom staff.

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Published April 25, 2023 at 7:48 am (Updated April 26, 2023 at 8:02 am)

‘I feel like I was robbed’ - Antwan Russell hits out after losing coach of year award

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