By E. Glenford Prescott
The SVG Football Federation (SVGFF) says it is making every effort to prepare the senior national men’s football team, “Vincy Heat”, to face the United State and other teams in the next phase of the Russia 2018 World Cup Qualifiers.
Vincy Heat will play the high-profile match against the United States on Nov. 13 in St. Louis.
SVGFF president, Venold Coombs, said that with the large budget that the campaign will attract, his organisation will try to tap into every area so as to meet the obligation.
He said that the government has promised to meet some of the cost and has committed to assist in getting some contributions from businesses at home and abroad.
Coombs said that in an effort to whip up support form the Vincentian community in North America, two members of the local orgnaising committee, chair Nelson Hillocks and committee member Dougal James, will travel to the United States to meet with Vincentians there.
“This is a big thing and its about St. Vincent and the Grenadines, not just the Football Federation. So it is all hands on deck — the Ministry of Tourism, the Ministry of Health and other important areas are on board with this. It is a plan to showcase this country and must do so in one voice and in harmony,” Coombs said.
He said the team’s technical staff will be getting information on players with Vincentian connection who qualify to wear the national country.
There are areas in the team that need some level of improvement to take on the better squads, Coombs said.
He added that he will be guarded against another situation like the Gavin James matter, where the UK-based James, who qualified for Vincentian citizenship because of his parents and grandparents, was allowed to play against Guyana, without having a SVG passport but a stamp in his British passport stating he was a citizen of SVG.
A protest was lodged by the Guyana Football Association but was dismissed by FIFA.
The Guyanese have since lodged an appeal.
The president said that the team will be trying to secure a few friendly matches ahead of the US match and that Grenada and Antigua are immediate possibilities.
In addition to United States, SVG will oppose Guatemala and Trinidad and Tobago home and away, with the first home match on Nov. 17 against Guatemala.
“Vincy Heat” advanced to this phase after going past Aruba 3-2 on aggregate.
Coombs also mentioned a possible kit sponsorship from one of two sources, which he siad the SVGFF will welcome.
“Our former technical director Sammy Carrington has made a proposal to the SVGFF about sponsoring the kit for the senior national team and we have asked him to submit a formal document outlining what he is offering.
“We know that Sammy has always been there for the national team and [we] are happy that he is coming forward at this time,” Coombs said.
He said that the U.S. Football Federation has also tentatively offered a possible window through its association with sportswear giants Nike and this was being examined.
He said that the progress of Vincy Heat will have a knock on effect and he is looking forward to players benefitting by securing contracts abroad in recognised leagues.