ST. JOHN’S, ANTIGUA and BARBUDA—Vancouver Victory FC are building on their relationships with players and clubs in the Antigua and Barbuda Football Association (ABFA) in 2015 as owner Barrett Goddard and two players traveled to the Caribbean islands recently to continue connections. Goddard has returned home but Victory players Langdon Roscoe and Cameron Goddard remain in St. John’s, playing with Ottos Rangers FC of the AB Premier Division.
St. John’s has a population of 82,000, making it the largest city in Antigua and Barbados. The National Stadium is in St. John’s, and is home to all of the clubs in the Premier Division. Last year three players from the islands came to Vancouver. This year two are planned to come to the Victory. But first, the Victory have sent two of their own.
Langdon and Cameron are practicing and playing with Ottos Rangers FC, a club founded back in 1968. They are getting a chance to experience soccer as it is played in another culture. “I just want them to have a great experience that’s soccer or football related and I want them to get out and learn something about Antigua and as far as playing time and starting and any of that stuff, I don’t care, I just want them to come, mix, mingle, meet new players, meet new coaches, learn a different style,” Barret Goddard told The Daily Observer.
The Victory are doing more than exchanging players. They have been networking with Premier Division clubs and helping out where they can when they see a need.
“These clubs are very much neighborhood clubs,” says Victory owner Goddard. “They practice on neighborhood fields during the week, and then matches are played at the National Stadium on weekends.” In January during his visit Goddard noticed that Green Bay Hoppers practice in a local field with bare metal goals. After dark the posts are difficult to see from a distance. So Barrett went to a store that sells paint and brought back a few cans. Before you know it players were up on chairs painting the posts. There was a buzz at the next practice as to how much of a difference it made.
Ottos Rangers FC, Green Bay Hoppers (where Victory player Jamoy Stevens plays) and Empire FC are all within about a mile of each other. Empire FC, a traditional power, recently secured promotion back into the Premier Division. The Victory are connecting with all three clubs. They are forming a special bond with Ottos. The Victory saw another need and decided to work with a local store to make sure Rangers youth clubs looked their best. So the Victory helped secure 80 uniform tops for the club. Numbers were added along with a cool touch – they say “V2FC” on the sleeves!
It’s news when the Victory are in Antigua, and when players from the Islands come to America. The three players who came to Vancouver last year (Jamoy Stevens, Avier Christian, Tevaughn Harriette) were on St. John’s radio about their experiences. This time down Goddard was interviewed by radio as well. Barrett was surprised at the response. People on the street had been listening and everywhere he went they said hello and wanted to talk soccer.
As the relationships build the player exchanges will continue. Victory fans will be excited to hear that Jamoy Stevens, the talented defender, will be back this EPLWA season. The club also has high hopes for Junior Benjamin, a fast, strong striker from Ottos who has a dozen goals this season in the Premier Division and will be coming to the Victory in 2015.
Cameron and Langdon will be coming back to Vancouver the last week of February. They are currently staying with a host family that owns an apartment building. AB Football has hired Piotr Nowak as their new Technical Director. He’s helping to push along new ideas on the islands. The Vancouver Victory are doing their part as well, creating connections that are making a difference in football player’s lives, and perhaps even a difference in the football future of a nation.
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