By Neto Baptiste
Coaches representing more than 60 US-based learning institutions will attend next month’s combined football camp to be hosted by the Antigua and Barbuda Football Association (ABFA) in hopes of getting young male and female players into schools across the USA.
This was revealed by the body’s technical director and former national player, Sowerby Gomes, who said the December 12 to 14 event will take place at the FA’s training and technical center on the Sir Sydney Walling Highway.
“We are looking at over 65 colleges in the US with colleges, universities and junior colleges and these colleges rank from Division 1, Division 2, NAIA, and there will be between 14 to 17 US coaches on island in Antigua. The combined will be streamed live from our technical center to those coaches in the US, so while the combined will be going on, they would be able to see exactly what’s happening so each particular player who will be selected for this particular combine, their portfolios are being gathered right now and the portfolio for each particular player, both male and female, will be sent off to each particular college and coach,” he said.
Reports indicated that over 80 players have already been assessed by the FA’s technical staff in preparation for the combine.
Gomes said the selection process started with the FA’s database and will eventually branch out to clubs for possible candidates.
“We have a wide database of our top athletes and how they are doing academically in school, so we are not hitting and missing. The database is there so we are able to go there first because they are the athletes who represent us. After selecting from there, we now can reach out to the various clubs and coaches,” the TD said.
“The coaches who are part of the preparation of this combine are local coaches out of our academies here in Antigua and they are doing their D license course so they are the eyes on the ground, the ones who are in the academies so they can attract the players to this particular combine,” he added.
The former defender also sought to address concerns over the FA’s selection process regarding those players chosen from its database.
“It’s student athletes, and it’s a college combine, which means that it is not just about athletic ability, but the academics play a pivotal role in this because these Division 1 schools, Division 2 schools and NAIA schools there are certain requirements for grades and acceptance into school, and the requirements would have been sent to us in terms of what is expected of these particular students,” Gomes said.
“As these students come to the training sessions at lot of information is being asked of them as their portfolio is being built, and we have sent information for most of them requesting the transcripts from their schools, because this is no word-of-mouth, or you just telling us this, it is serious business,” he added.
The FA is currently running sessions with a number of players as they seek to identify the best suitable candidates for the combine.