Sowerby Gomes Says Players Benefit From ABFA Combine; Close To A Dozen Already In US Schools

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Football Association’s technical director, Sowerby Gomes (centre), chats with visiting coaches from schools across the US during last December’s combine (File photo)
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By Neto Baptiste

A number of the country’s young footballers are currently in colleges and universities across the USA after having accepted offers for partial scholarships coming out of the college combine hosted by the Antigua and Barbuda Football Association (ABFA) in December 2021.

This was revealed by the FA’s technical director and former national captain, Sowerby Gomes, who said that close to 12 players are currently in the schools with others set to commence their journeys in 2023.

“These scholarships are not full ride, they are partial scholarships and one of the main hedge in terms of assisting our players in covering the other part of the cost is the Prime Minister’s Scholarship which has played a pivotal role in getting our players off and assisting the parents in this endeavour,” he said. 

Currently attending schools in the US are Blaivon James at Old Dominion University; Calique Simon at Shaw University; while Anyton Henry, Nicelle Drew, Denisia Samuel, Virginia Simon, Tassianne Benjamin and Deborah Watson are all enrolled in Bryant & Stratton College. 

Gomes highlighted that one player who had initially been offered a partial scholarship has since had that offer upgraded to a full ride.

“We also had one athlete who earned a scholarship but it was a partial scholarship. However, the college has now come back and has awarded him a full scholarship. That is Mr Jalmaro Calvin who should be getting a full scholarship to Shaw University (USA). He is presently here [in Antigua] but will be looking to go off early next year,” he said. 

In addition to Calvin, another four players are set to take up offers next year. They are Zahiem Greene (Adelphi University); Tiquan Isaac (Union KY); Shaquan Simon (Union KY); and Kamali Looby (Bryant & Stratton).

A number of other players are said to be mulling their options from among the offers they have been made.

Gomes said the FA has also played its role in assisting the selected players with putting the necessary mechanisms in place that would ensure they are in a position to take full advantage of the opportunities presented to them.

“The ABFA would have helped considerably [with] airfare for quite a few of these athletes because when they got the student visa they had to travel to Barbados; also, it was an ABFA expense to bring these coaches and put this college combine together to make it happen here locally,” the TD said.

According to the ABFA, representatives from more than 60 US-based schools were set to attend the combine which was held from December 12-14 at the FA’s technical center.

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