By Neto Baptiste
Technical director for football in Antigua and former national defender, Sowerby Gomes, is in support of a revitalising of sub-regional competitions like the once popular Leeward Islands Football Tournament.
Gomes said players from within the Leeward and Windward Islands are not getting enough competitive football under their belt and could benefit from the return of such a tournament.
“That is where we have to go and we’ve been there before in terms of the men, and tournaments within the OECS between the Windward Islands and the Leeward Islands and this is where we need to go in order to offer our players more playing time, build the experience within our environment or our neck of the woods, and when it comes time for us to play Jamaica or the USA or Suriname, we will be fully equipped because we would have gone through the paces of playing each other and, as a result, sharpening our skills,” he said.
Antigua and Barbuda won the first instalment of the Leeward Islands Football Tournament back in 1949, but the competition, which was put on by the Leeward Islands Football Association (LIFA) was largely dominated by St. Kitts and Nevis who have won the title some 17 times.
The last know instalment of the tournament was held here in Antigua in 2002 and was captured by St. Kitts & Nevis who beat Antigua and Barbuda 2-0 in the final played at the Antigua Recreation Grounds (ARG).
Meanwhile, Gomes said one of his main tasks at the moment is the preparation of the country’s senior women’s team who will start their World Cup qualifying bid in February next year.
“Their preparations have been ongoing and it’s headed by the director of female football, Lisa Cole, along with her assistant Nabu [Vincent Samuel] and Astel Joseph, so they have been training every week and at least four to five days per week because they recognise the heavy task at hand,” the TD said.
The senior women’s team will face Puerto Rico in February next year before squaring off with Mexico in April.