Soccer was once one of the most popular sports in and around the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.
While the status of soccer has seen a sizable drop-off over the years,Grand Bahama stakeholders of the the sport have slowly but surely been making strides in breathing life back into the once popular sport.
Most recently, the Bahamas Football Association (BFA) ensured that Grand Bahama was not left out of the forward progression of the sport. On Friday, November 2, the Grand Bahama Primary and Secondary School Athletic Associations (GBPSAA, GBSSAA), as well as the Grand Bahama Soccer Club (GBSC), and the Freeport Rugby and Football Club (FRFC) were the recipients of equipment.
The four aforementioned organizations received soccer balls, bibs, and cones, courtesy of the parent soccer federation. The addition of the equipment was stated to bode well toward the development of young persons across the various soccer entities, according to local representatives.
Vice president of the GBPSAA Ravanno Ferguson said it’s the goal of the organization to jump-start some soccer activities for the kids and the equipment was received in a timely fashion.
“We have over 20 primary schools locally and we want to implement some good football activities. These (soccer) balls will go a long way through the various schools that don’t have the equipment right now,” he expressed.
High school soccer has been a point of interest in recent years. With the National High School Soccer Championships becoming a growing success, soccer among the high school teams has become even more competitive. GBSSAA secretary Charleen Hamilton noted the increase in intensity among the high school teams and said the added equipment should yield even more competitive games moving forward.
“The donation will go a very long way. Each person will have the opportunity to just expand on their skills and talents that they’ve already been working on.”
Hamilton said closer attention is paid to the primary school soccer players transitioning into high school.
“We have seen growth over the years. And what we have realized is that sometimes our season for the primary school is very short. But, with primary students coming over to the high school, we identify talents that actually expand into the high school, because from there we can see who we have with the kids coming into the high schools and we continue to work on them.
“Most of them are already in different clubs. These clubs assist us in the high school, to just continue to build on what they have.
Over the years a number of players have moved on into colleges based on soccer. They’ve gotten scholarships, which I think is a beautiful thing. And, kids from local leagues have made it to the national teams. If we just continue to develop our athletes, then we realize our country will move forward,” said Hamilton.
Vice president Tony Jones of the FRFC noted that it has been “a long time coming” for equipment to be sent to Grand Bahama.
“We’ve been waiting a little while to get some help from Nassau and it looks like they’ve come through this time. These are some good quality soccer balls and they’re really going to help our youth programs. We do after school and Saturday morning programs. We get a lot of kids who come through and having cones and ball and bibs, is all a part of the game.
“Soccer development has taken a little turn for the worse over recent years but I think it’s coming back again. Hopefully with this new equipment we can start some major programs to implement use of all this stuff,” he said.
The FRFC currently has youngsters ages sx-11 training after school and an intermediate program held on Saturdays. There are also training sessions on Monday and Wednesday’s each week with a low cost membership fee.
“When we get gifted things like this from a big association like the BFA it shows good credit toward the youth.”
GBSC co-founder and coach Donnie Knowles drew reference to the intensity of both the grassroots programs and the girls’ development program, both held at the YMCA under the GBSC. He too noted how the equipment will help increase both programs.
“The soccer balls are always good, for having the kids work on all their technical skills. We appreciate the BFA looking north and donating the soccer balls here and especially to the primary schools. We love that the schools are able to receive some equipment to work with.
“That’s always good because it helps - the more touches the better the kids get. So we appreciate what the BFA is doing,” he concluded.