In full support of Vincy Heat
Today the Vincentian football team, Vincy Heat, takes on the USA in the second round of the COCACACF qualifiers for the FIFA Football World Cup 2018.
Vincentians around the world would tune in to lend their support to the team in true commitment to St Vincent and the Grenadines.
In the competition thus far the national representative team has fought the good fight but with little success in terms of points. In fact, the team is yet to gain a single point in this round of the competition.
But how do we measure the success of Vincy Heat in this kind of competition?
We are by far the smallest of the nations in the group and we are also the one country with the least resources available in support of the development of the sport.
Our legacy in the sport of football allows us nonetheless to feel justly proud of our years of achievements. We can readily boast of doing so much with so little. This is perhaps reason enough for Vincentians at home and abroad to rally around Vincy Heat yet again today, despite the strength of the USA.
The uphill struggle
This country’s most successful football team remains that which emerged second in the regional competition some years ago having defeated Surinam in a major upset.
The country’s climb amongst the ranks of Caribbean football nations has come as a result of an abundance of talented athletes who have been engaged in what can only be described as an uphill battle.
Our footballers have come from very humble circumstances and have shown a capacity to stand tall amongst their CONCACAF colleagues since joining the ranks of FIFA.
Over the years we have had mixed performances from our athletes just as we have allocated differing funds towards the preparation of our respective teams involved in regional and international competitions.
Many would recall the first time we played Mexico in Mexico City in the second round CONCACAF preliminaries for the World Cup of 1994. The game was in the middle of the day in the city’s renowned high altitude. The sports medicine personnel of the host country were fully deployed as several of our players took turns at receiving oxygen on the side lines. The eleven goals that were scored against was a major embarrassment.
In that second round we had a total of 28 goals scored against us.
We have come a very long way since then.
We have finished second in the Caribbean Nations Cup, good enough to make it to the CONCACAF Gold Cup played in the USA.
Regardless of the teams we have played against since then none has ever dared to take us for granted.
We seem to have a very good performance record against Trinidad and Tobago each time the two teams are locked in battle.
USA in football
Football has been played in the US since latter part of the 19th century.
The country participated in the first ever FIFA World Cup held in 1930 and finished third overall, the country’s best performance in World Cup history.
Between 1950 and the early 1980s US football went into a form of recession.
It has been a major challenge for the sport to bounce back given the immense popularity of American football, baseball and basketball.
It was not until the US defeated Trinidad and Tobago in the CONCACAF preliminaries in the twin-island Republic in 1989 to qualify for the 1990 FIFA World Cup that the country appeared to have returned to serious football contention. The country then made its first return to a World Cup final in 40 years in Italy in 1990.
Eventually the game took root and is now extremely popular.
The US successfully hosted the FIFA World Cup in 1994.
The men’s team has made it through to the World Cup finals on ten occasions. The women’s team has made it to seven World Cup finals, having won the inaugural competition in 1991 and again in 1999 and 2015.
What’s at stake?
For both Vincy Heat and the USA there is much that is at stake in this game being played at our premier sporting arena, the Arnos Vale Sports Complex.
Vincentians are a very proud people and this regardless of the form of endeavour in which we choose to engage ourselves. In this game against the USA Vincentian national pride is at stake.
We are not fearful of the USA on the football field.
Playing at home is a distinct advantage given the support Vincentians would bring to the Arnos Vale arena today.
It is about being Vincentian and understanding that our players are talented. Despite the significant difference in resource allocation we are confident that our players would do the best with what they have had available to them and that this would be reflected in every play.
Of course the US would not want it recorded anywhere in their football history that little St Vincent and the Grenadines came back from an initial 1 – 7 defeat to humble them in the Caribbean. That would significantly dent their sporting pride in more ways than one.
For the US and its continued appeal to Americans interested in football, a win is what would serve them well.
The rich and proud legacy of Vincentian football allows us to always showcase our abundance of talent.
We do have a cadre of young athlete sin the team blended with some more experienced ones.
The game would allow our players to show why they are deserving of gaining national selection.
On the part of the US, with a much larger pool of talented players to choose from there is an abundance of talent that would add much value and interest to today’s game.
Everyone that looks at today’s game should be thoroughly entertained by what they see in terms of where the two teams are in the sport that has so much appeal around the world.
Teams and coaches everywhere remain forever interested in seeking out talented athletes for contracts in the professional form of the game.
Today’s game offers Vincentian athletes a very good opportunity to impress coaches of teams in the US and elsewhere that this little Caribbean island has enough talented footballers deserving of gaining contracts.
In today’s world that are numerous examples of people who have benefitted from sporting contracts. True we have had only a few football professional contracts but the opportunities are still there. It is up to our players and their coaches to adequately prepare them to take the challenge.
For the US, many of the players already have football contracts with different teams. There are however those in the team who may hope that their performance today would open up better opportunities to more lucrative contracts. They want better for themselves.
Go Vincy Heat!
Whatever the outcome of today’s game between the US and Vincy Heat, lovers of sport and particularly lovers of football in this country should feel excited at the fact that we have come a very long way in football.
In many respects the names of so many that have been indelibly etched in the annals of the sport in this country resonate with each encounter in which Vincy Heat is engaged. It is their legacy that is put on the line on each occasion.
What does it mean to be Vincentian today?
It means believing that we are a talented, committed and resilient people.
It means standing tall, confident in our capacities, regardless of the final outcome in today’s game.
It means being fearless in our resolve that despite our nation’s size, our people can and will continue to aspire after greatness in every field of endeavour available to us.
Finally, it means rising above petty differences to lend our support to those who today represent us on the field of play, proud to be sporting our colours, proud to be Vincy.
Go Vincy Heat!