By Neto Baptiste
A total of 90 players – 57 boys and 33 girls – will take part in the Antigua and Barbuda Football Association’s (ABFA) combine slated to start on Sunday at the FA’s technical and training centre in Paynters.
This was revealed by technical director and former national defender, Sowerby Gomes, who said all participants are fully aware of what will be required over the three-day period which will see coaches and scouts from 63 schools across the USA viewing the sessions.
“They know what particular activity they will be placed in; the coaches will be there and set up to run all these activities, and the scouts and coaches on the outside are looking in to see all of the players. Each of the coaches and perspective scouts that might be at that particular combine will have their hands on each student-athlete and they are looking with intention to see and test for understanding, to see how well they do under pressure, to see their attitude off the field and to see their attitude on the field as well,” he said.
Gomes, who was hired as TD in July this year, is anticipating that at least 30 players will be offered opportunities by colleges and universities in the US.
“There will be full ride scholarships, some half rides, and there may be 80 percent or 60 percent and that has a lot to do with the ability of the player, the strength of the player will demand more because now they [the players] will be in greater demand. What I can tell you is that over the last three weeks, quite a number of these same universities and colleges have been sending requests looking for top players in a number nine position, they are looking for wingers in a number seven or 11 and the profile of these athletes were sent to these coaches so they have the profile of these players before them, so they will be looking with keen eyes to see how well these players perform in these positions,” he said.
The former player said that preparation for the combine has spanned several weeks where coaches have worked on both the physical and mental aspects of the players.
“Because of the level of preparation they received, I am very confident they will do well and what I can tell you is that the level of the coaches preparing these athletes have been working on the mental side in sit down sessions over the six-week period, and not just on the field, but off the field. One of the key things we are pushing on these athletes is how they carry themselves on social media because these coaches from the universities and colleges will be doing enhanced due diligence so they will be going onto social media to see exactly how they profile themselves,” Gomes said.
The event, which will start at 9:00 am and run until 5:00 pm daily, will see a total of eight US coaches and nine scouts physically attend the sessions with another 45 coaches viewing online.
Members of the public will however not be allowed into the venue for the duration of the combine.