On August 6 at the Thompson A. Robinson National Stadium, Bahamas will welcome the United States Olympic Team in an international friendly…
On the beautiful island of Bahamas, the national sport sloop sailing takes precedence. Basketball, baseball and athletics are popular, too. Football isn’t played or watched as much but that doesn’t necessarily mean there isn’t an appetite for it.
The national football team of Bahamas are making a comeback after three years out.
The Bahamas Football Association (BFA) has sought to fix the lack of matches in the national football calendar over the last few years by organising a friendly with the US Olympic Team, predominantly made up of Under-23s as well as three “overage” players. The Americans are likely to be up for the challenge with the 2016 Summer Olympics and 2018 World Cup coming up.
As for the Bahamas, this is a much-needed competitive fixture which will hopefully kick-start a period of more games in the future. The team’s last match was in July 2011, a 6-0 mauling of Turks & Caicos Islands in 2014 World Cup qualification. They didn’t enter qualification for this year’s Caribbean Cup but their Under-17 side did host and compete in Group 4 of Under-17 World Cup qualifying recently. Beach soccer is preferred to over the game’s grass version for most Bahamians because of the availability of sand on the island. They clinched sixth place at last year’s CONCACAF Beach Soccer Championship.
Bahamas’ key players
Name: Lesly St. Fleur
School: Doris Johnson Senior High
Club History: 2004-2010 – Bears FC (Bahamas), 2010 – Milltown FC (Canada), 2010 – Sporting Central Academy (Jamaica), 2011-2014 – Montego Bay United (Jamaica)
Achievements/accolades: St. Fleur is the best player on the team. Speedy, skillful and athletic, the 25-year-old is Bahamas’ top scorer with six goals – five of them were in that Turks & Caicos game three years ago. He has 13 caps for his country and is a frequent feature for the Beach Soccer team, as he scored four goals in the group stage of the aforementioned regional Beach Soccer Championship.
Name: Dylan Pritchard
Position: Defensive Midfielder/Central Defender
School: Boston College
Club History: 2008-2012 – Real So Cal (United States)
Achievements/accolades: Pritchard was a member of the US Development Academy with Real So Cal from 2009-2012. He attended the coveted Northern Island Milk Cup with South Coast Bayern in 2010. The Los Angeles-born man will be harbouring hopes of making his national debut against, ironically, the US as he has only recently joined the Bahamanian setup.
Name: Valin Bodie
School: Essex County College – Newark, New Jersey from August 2013 – Present
Club History: 2002-2006 – Virgo Angels FC (Bahamas), 2007-2013 – Augustine’s College Junior Boys & Senior Team (Bahamas), 2007-Present – Cavalier FC U17s & Seniors (Bahamas), 2013-Present – Essex County College (US), February 2014-Present – Elite Beach Soccer & Futsal Club (Bahamas)
Achievements/accolades: Although primarily a goalkeeper, Bodie can operate in a wide variety of positions such as Defender, Central Midfielder, Winger and Striker. He has co-captained and captained St. Augustine’s College and Cavalier, showing leadership qualities, while Bodie was also selected as Goalkeeper in this year’s Viareggio Cup held in Tuscany, Italy. He represented the nation’s Beach Soccer team in World Cup qualifiers in May last year. The teenager will have to be at his best against the US to keep their shots at bay.
Name: Terry Delancy
School: University of South Florida
Club History: 2001-2005 -Virgo Angels FC (Bahamas), 2005-2008 – Cavalier FC (Bahamas), 2008-2012 – Lonestar SC (US), 2013 – VSI Tampa Bay FC (US), 2014-Present – IMG (US)
Achievements/accolades: Born in Nassau and a St. Stephen’s Episcopal High School attendee, Delancy won the American Athletic Conference with his club this year. As a fresh-faced 14-year-old in 2008, Delancy participated in the first edition of the Red Bull Street Style held in Fort Charlotte, Bahamas. It was a competition designed to showcase the best of the island’s football freestylers and incredibly, Delancy, one of the youngest there, was crowned champion after producing a mesmerising performance (more information can be found on The Bahamas Weekly website). Delancy is now looking to make a mark with Bahamas on the international stage and if he appears against the US, it will be his first cap.
Name: Ambry Moss
Position: Central Defender/Right Back
School: Northeastern University
Club History: 2002-2007 – Lyford Cay Dragons, 2007-2009 – IMG, 2009-2010 – Indiana University, 2010-2014 – Northeastern Uni
Achievements/accolades: A Communications Studies pupil at Northeastern University, Moss was Northeastern’s Tri-captain and he’s ran out for the All-CAA Third Team, NSCAA All-South Atlantic Third Team and All-CAA Second Team. A solid, muscular defensive-minded player, he has just one previous cap for Bahamas.
At 28 years old, Nesley Jean is one of the youngest managers in globall football. A former Bahamas international himself, Jean made 11 appearances and scored five goals during a seven year spell with the national team. An inventive and fast forward, he was a one-club man who dedicated his playing days to Bears FC – involved in the BFA Senior League – from 2007 to 2013. His career was blighted by injuries and as a result Jean hung up his boots last year and instead took up management. He began coaching for the Bahamas U17s and impressed enough to be given the senior job this summer, with his first game in charge coming against the US. Cameron Hepple, a current international and good friend of The Home of Caribbean Football, will assist Jean as a coach on the touchline.
It is believed that Bahamas will employ a 3-4-3 formation with no official starting line-up known yet as some members of the squad still need to arrive in the Bahamas. Hepple says “we produce quality wing backs” and that is a reason why Bahamas are favouring this system, with three central defenders gluing the defence together, two wing backs to push on, two holding midfielders and a three-man attack with St. Fleur expected to lead the line. It isn’t yet known how the US side will line up.
Date: Wednesday August 6, 2014
Venue: Thompson A. Robinson National Stadium (named Thomas A. Robinson, an ex-Bahamas sprinter who ran for the island at several Olympics Games)
Kickoff time: 8pm local time which translates to 1am in the UK
Ticket prices: Adults pay $10, kids pay $5
By Nathan Carr