Five Reasons the St. Lucia Football Association is and will continue to be St. Lucia’s Sports Association of the Year.
By Kurt Charles SportsOnline Contributor
- Development of Coaches and Referees: No other association on the island has shown such an unwavering desire to develop coaches in their field. From the Eleven for life campaign to the FIFA D Licensing program, anyone in sports would tell you that training coaches leads to better skilled players. So it comes as no surprise that St. Lucia seems to have innumerable amounts of young football talent all over the island.
- Competitions: One often wonders if anyone in Brazil says to their local football authorities that there is too much football being played. Yet, in little St. Lucia you hear this song being sang by even the supposed brightest sports minds around. What must be questioned is the organization of these football competitions and whether footballers actually benefit from it. As far as anyone can recall, after every major competition held in St. Lucia, someone gets called to a foreign league somewhere. Remember Otev Lawrence? Where is he? Where is Nyron Winters? What about David Henry? One may hasten to argue that these individuals were not picked because a scout came over to watch a competition, but, there is no doubt that footballers who keep themselves fit because they know that after Vizions Super league there is Blackheart, and that after Blackheart there is the Presidents Cup and that thereafter the Fantasy Football League, tend to be among those called over to make some money overseas.
- Conquering Areas of Weakness. Last year with the aid of Vice-president Charde Desir, the Association implemented the first ever inter-schools female football competition. In years past, St. Lucia suffered embarrassing defeats on home soil to regional opponents in female football. This trend has been reversed. Well, at least on a youth level! In the sport of football, the association strategically embarked on an ambitious journey of finding local female talent to place in a carefully planed and executed development program. Little did the association know that this would ensure the island is competitive on a regional level. Talent was discovered over the last year with the implementation of a local youth female tournament, where Vieux-Fort defeated Gros-Islet in the final, and the schools competition where Soufriere Comprehensive edged out Sir Ira Simmons. As a result, St. Lucia’s female youth team recently took part in the CONCACAF Under 15 tournament in Orlando Florida and made it all the way to a the quarter-final.
- Corporate Social Responsibility: The St. Lucia Football Association has partnered with a number of social partners over the years to provide assistance beyond the confines of a field for footballers, and by extension, their families. Last year the association partnered with Vizions and Grace to provide five scholarships to footballers to aid in their academic pursuits as well as their sustenance. This year, the association has negotiated to have that number increased by 100%. This year 10 young male and female footballers were rewarded with scholarships as the SLFA partnered with corporate St. Lucia again.
- Lyndon Cooper: The fifth and final reason for the purpose of this article, the St. Lucia Football Association will again be named Association of the year, is because of their competent leadership on top! Behind every successful organization there is a charismatic leader, and, with regards to the St. Lucia football Association there is no question about who is in charge. Every one of the four points made thus far has the imposing personality of Mr. Lyndon Cooper associated with it. Now well into his fifth year at the helm of the sport, Mr. Cooper has overseen the rise of St. Lucia’s Youth Football teams to not just a regional level, but an international level as well. The national Under 19 team is mere games away from qualification for the next step to the world cup. The Under 17 football team over the last few years has beaten some of the biggest names on the regional circuit and has caught the attention of the bigger islands. No longer is St. Lucia’s youth team considered a walk in the park for the likes of Trinidad and Jamaica. Everyone who knows football in the region, every coach who has been involved in the progress of football, every objective and fair-minded sports administrator in the region knows that something is happening in St. Lucian football. If what we have seen from our young footballers is an indication of our future in the sport in the region, and St. Lucia can stay on course, who knows what fair Helen can do next!