September 13, St John’s, Antigua — “Antigua & Barbuda Football Association (ABFA) First Division 2012/13 season will be a tough one for all the teams.”
These are the words of Villa Lions Assistant Coach Garry “Iron Donkey” Gonsalves while speaking with OBSERVER Sports on Wednesday. The former national player said First Division this season will be harder than ever.
He said with teams like Empire who have won the Premier Division title 13 times; Five Islands who won the title five times; Bullets who had players at the Premier level before; Swetes who always come very close to promotion; Bethesda; Ottos Rangers and newly promoted Jennings Grenades, along with Villa Lions who spent 10 straight years in Premier before being relegated two seasons ago, all of these teams will be hard nuts to crack.
But the Villa Lions are expected to roar as hard as they can when the bell tolls.
Gonsalves said Villa Lions is a young team and the team was just not ready for promotion last season, “because if you played against the last place team in the Premier and struggled, it simple means that you are not ready to face the bigger and better teams; and so this year will give them the opportunity to blend the experience of last year with this year and seek to gain promotion.”
He suggested that there is no development in the Premier Division, because all the teams are fighting for the championship and so young 16 and 17 year olds playing in that division come under pressure to deliver.
Gonsalves said First Division is a real challenge because it involves travelling to the rural areas were the time factor will be key and a lot of planning will have to be involved, while also playing on lesser quality surfaces than the ARG will be another.
He, however, noted that in spite of First Division appearing tough, the team would be playing positive football with the objective of gaining promotion.
The assistant coach also noted that the Villa Soccer Academy headed by Sowerby Gomes is really the foundation for preparing and developing players for the future, perhaps 10 to 15 years down the road, so that Villa Lions can have a very strong team.
He also said that the academy has also assisted in shaping the lives of youngsters not only in Villa but the island on a whole.
He added that Villa Lions are the Arsenal of Antigua with all home grown players, and for this season big things are expected from David “Saco” Lewis, Vivian Gonsalves, Gavin Lewis, Michael Roberts and himself.
He also hinted that this season might be his last days of playing and he would like to end by getting Villa Lions back in Premier Division.