By Neto Baptiste
More players will get an opportunity to put their skills on display for coaches representing a number of US-based learning institutions when the Antigua and Barbuda Football Association (ABFA) hosts its soccer combine slated for December 12-14 at its training and technical centre on Sir Sydney Walling Highway.
This is according to the FA’s technical director and former national player Sowerby Gomes, who said that due to the overwhelming turnout by players, additional candidates and spots have been identified during the three-day event.
“Where we were looking for 42 males, we are now up to around 55 males in terms of the final combine and for the females, where we were looking for about 28, we will actually have around 35 females so we have increased the [numbers] because of the overwhelming participation of the athletes coming forward and how strong they are academically,” he said.
Stating that plans are on track to host the anticipated event next month, Gomes said that over 250 players have already been assessed by coaches here as they seek to identify the best possible candidates.
“What we do is use our B licence coaches and assess them and from that we take all of the information from the applicants, including those who are presently in school, those who have already left school and are at [Antigua] State College and those who are working at the moment. We are able to assess them properly, see where they’re at in terms of football because they are actually playing in active games and from that assessment we are able to narrow down the numbers we are looking at. Over the past six weeks we have looked at close to 300 athletes but what we have done is to do it in groups of 25 or 30,” he said.
The TD also commended the parents for their involvement and support thus far.
“Most of the parents would come by and see what’s happening because this is certainly a great opportunity for each of the athletes who are taking part. In fact, I am actually blown away by the level of turnout by the parents [of male players] because usually when the females are training you normally have the parents coming around and watching, but this time, especially for the males and how competitive it gets, you would see a lot of parents come by to see how their son is doing or more so to see their son might be getting a fair assessment of what’s taking place,” Gomes said.
According to the ABFA, representatives from over 60 US-based schools are expected to view the combine.