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British Virgin Islands Look Ahead To 2026 World Cup

The possibilities could also be slim however the objective is to play within the worlds greatest soccer event.

British Virgin Islands Look Forward To 2026 World Cup | Steve Menary

“The 2026 World Cup is our objective,” says Dan Neville.

The coach of the British Virgin Islands doesn’t count on to achieve the finals however the qualifiers supply a uncommon likelihood for small CONCACAF sides. The USA, Canada and Mexico are all prone to qualify as co-hosts, giving the BVI has an opportunity to progress additional than typical.

Neville, a former academy coach at AFC Bournemouth in England, helps rebuild the sport on the BVI, which was devastated by Hurricane Irma in 2017.

“We’ve a inhabitants of 30,00Zero however that went right down to 20,00Zero after the hurricane,” says BVIFA president Andy Bickerton, whose own residence was destroyed.

Bickerton grew up on the English south coast and on a visit residence bought in contact with Bournemouth, the place he met Neville. After Neville left the membership, the pair stayed in contact and he got here to the BVI to stage a coaching camp and bought the coach’s job.

Whereas a few of the inhabitants has returned, however the affect of the hurricane nonetheless reverberates.

“The hurricane triggered us numerous gamers to relocate to plenty of nations,” says BVI captain Troy Caesar. “It triggered plenty of issues within the BVI. We had simply began on a brand new stadium and that was broken. Even a few of the children that I used to educate have been gone and folks’s addresses have been misplaced.”

With the pitch on the $5 million stadium in Tortola broken, the nationwide workforce have been pressured to play video games within the neighbouring British territory of Anguilla.

The timing couldn’t have been worse as Bickerton’s deal with youth had constructed up a youth programme from 250 youngsters to greater than 1,00Zero regardless of athletics and basketball being the principle sports activities.

A flourishing league has 9 golf equipment drawn from Tortola and the opposite important island of Virgin Gouda, however ferry journey value $70,00Zero final yr and solely 30% of the gamers are eligible for Neville’s aspect.

Getting a BVI passport isn’t straightforward and like different small Caribbean islands, the BVI regarded overseas for gamers.

Kristian Javier is from Atlanta, Georgia, however his mom is from the BVI. “You could continually remind your self why you play the sport. It’s a must to realise you’re carrying the hope of your nation with you into every match,” says Javier, who performs for Peachtree Metropolis MOBA in USL2 however just lately educated with Victoria and SCU Torreense in Portugal.

Recruiting swathes of gamers from overseas isn’t a long-term technique.

Bickerton, who performed for the BVI in his youth and has been president thrice since 1991, explains: “We’re doing it to maintain the scores affordable till we are able to deliver youngsters by. Bringing in too many abroad gamers could be harmful as we are attempting to make the game well-liked.

“In case you are good within the BVI, you’re going to get an opportunity to play.”

Caesar was born within the BVI to Dominican dad and mom and made his senior debut in 2010 aged 16 and was made captain 4 years later. Neville can be centered on youth and introduced a younger aspect to Dorset for a coaching camp and a recreation with Southern Premier League South aspect Weymouth.

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An inexperienced BVI workforce misplaced 6-1 however Neville isn’t deterred. He says: “We’re bringing issues which can be commonplace within the UK. After we performed Martinique, they’d by no means seen a resistance band earlier than. Our expertise will take us a bit additional however we’re investing in youth.”

Caesar, the BVI’s most capped participant with 18 appearances, sees indicators of enchancment. He says: “Prior to now, the rating didn’t replicate the quantity of expertise within the BVI. The preparation was very poor and that may trigger us to lose badly, however since Mr Bickerton employed Coach Dan there was a turnaround. There’s potential there now.

“After I was youthful we have been shedding to 17-Zero [to the Dominican Republic] however we have been Zero-Zero for 70 minutes in opposition to Martinique.”

Final summer time, the BVI performed a sequence of friendlies and beat Sint Maarten Three-2 earlier than drawing Zero-Zero draw with French Saint Martin after which beat St Barts Four-Three.

The video games have been preparation for the Nations League, when a number of youngsters have been concerned. Within the 5-Zero defeat to Suriname, 16-year previous Charles Medway and 18-year previous Tshame Gallimore began. Within the Four-Zero loss in Martinique, 16-year-old, Bailey Rowe, began and 17-year-old Liam Bok got here off the bench.

The BVI ought to have then performed Bonaire in Anguilla on November 16 however the Dutch island failed to point out up after their flight was cancelled. The fixture is being rescheduled and together with the ultimate Nations League fixture in opposition to the Turks & Caicos supply winnable video games as Neville’s revolution features tempo.

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