BFA parts ways with national coach Kyle Lightbourne
Kyle Lightbourne says he has no hard feelings after his time as Bermuda football coach came to a sudden end.
Lightbourne’s contract, and that of his assistant, Ray Jones, was not renewed after a disappointing Nations League campaign.
“First, I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone that was involved in allowing myself and my coaching staff to represent our country as head coach,” Lightbourne told The Royal Gazette.
“It’s been a honour and I would like to thank the players for all what we have been through together. I thank them for all the hard work that they have put in and the things that we achieved together. It was a pleasure to coach our national team.”
Some of those who represented Bermuda on Lightbourne’s watch were quick to pay tribute to him on social media.
Former captain Danté Leverock said: “Thank you Gaffer. Grateful for you providing me not only the privilege of representing my country but leading my country. 2019 can’t be denied, true history the Gold Cup in League A competing against powerhouse Mexico and beating Panama. A real players coach, always put the players first.”
The Bermuda Football Association’s Player Development Committee opted not to offer Lightbourne a new deal based on the national team’s poor performances on the international stage since making an historic debut at the Concacaf Gold Cup in 2019.
The BFA released a statement late on Wednesday night confirming its decision in response to questions submitted by this newspaper over claims it had parted ways with Lightbourne and Jones.
“The Bermuda Football Association is committed to achieving its strategic goals by continuously improving the structure and performance of its national teams,” the BFA statement read.
“As part of this commitment, the BFA has developed a robust coaching staff renewal process to support the national team’s success. At the end of each competition commitment, the Player Development Committee reviews the teams’ participation and assesses whether changes can or should be made. Based on this assessment, the PDC decides on the next steps for the team, its programmes and its staff.
“The Player Development Committee has decided not to renew the contracts of the senior men’s national team coaching staff. We take this opportunity to express our utmost thanks and appreciation to Kyle Lightbourne and his staff, who have served Bermuda with distinction.
“Our hearts and minds were captured by the performance of the senior men’s national team during the launch of the Concacaf Nations League and subsequent qualification to our first Concacaf Gold Cup. We enjoyed Bermuda’s success in New Jersey where we won our first match at that level against Nicaragua. That success will for ever be etched in history and has become the yardstick by which to measure our teams in the future.
“The Player Development Committee will intensify its search for a head coach and staff in preparation for the Concacaf Nations League 2023-24. Our coaching staff plays a critical role in the success of our national teams," said Vance Campbell, chair of the Player Development Committee.
“We want to make sure our athletes have the support they need to be successful, and we are committed to ensuring that we have the best team possible to achieve our goals.”
Lightbourne was appointed as the permanent coach of Bermuda in July 2018 after performing the role on an interim basis for almost a year.
He also served as Andrew Bascome’s assistant for 12 months before becoming caretaker coach.
The former PHC Zebras and national team player also had success at the international youth level, leading Bermuda Under-20 to the group stage of the Concacaf Championship in Costa Rica just five months before being appointed as senior national coach.
Lightbourne, who also coached the Bermuda Hogges for three seasons in the United Soccer League, also enjoyed plenty of domestic success at club level with PHC and Robin Hood.
He resigned as Robin Hood coach in the summer of 2017 after leading them to maiden Premier Division and FA Cup titles in successive seasons.
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