There will be semi-pro opportunities: ABFA combine to feature pro club scouts, reveals VP Gwen Salmon

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ABFA vice president, Gwen Salmon (centre), technical director Sowerby Gomes (left) and host of the Good Morning Jojo sports show, Joseph Apparicio, pose for a photo following a recent in-studio interview (Observer media photo)
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By Neto Baptiste

Young footballers harbouring dreams of turning pro will have an opportunity to impress scouts from a number of US-based professional clubs and academies when the Antigua and Barbuda Football Association hosts its second college combine at the end of the month.

This was revealed by longstanding vice president of the ABFA, Gwen Salmon, who said the new component was added to give those players not interested in attending a college or university, an avenue through which they could advance their careers.

“It’s important for us because for this combine also, we’re not only targeting players who want to go off to college and university. There is a pro side to this combine also where we will have the Chicago Fire in terms of some scouts and we also have two other pro league that will also be on the ground so for this one, this year is open to the players who may be saying, I haven’t made up my mind to go to school but I think I may want to go semipro. There is an opportunity for you in this combine to be seen by one of these persons on the ground so you wouldn’t be viewed online,” she said. 

The three-day combine will run from April 28-30 and will see an increase in both the participation of young players and the number of US college coaches.

Technical Director, Sowerby Gomes, predicted that at least 120 players will take part in this year’s combine in comparison to the 70 who participated back in 2021.

The former national defender also welcomed the participation of players from neighbouring Dominica.

“We are happy that Dominica could have seized this moment and decided to send some athletes down because maybe they can’t afford the expense of putting on a big combine. In the past when we couldn’t put on a combine, the ABFA sent six, seven athletes to Jamaica [and] the USA on college combines, so we are happy and quite fortunate that we can put on something like this a second time around,” he said. 

The combine will be held at the FA’s technical and training center on the Sir Sydney Walling Highway starting at 9am until 5pm on all days. The event is free for all local players.

The FA first held the combine in December of 2021. Gomes, in November last year, revealed that a number of players had since taken up offers from a number of schools.

Currently attending schools in the US are Blaivon James at Old Dominion University; Calique Simon at Shaw University; while Anyton HenryNicelle DrewDenisia SamuelVirginia SimonTassianne Benjamin and Deborah Watson are all enrolled in Bryant & Stratton College. 

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