Montserrat’s new football complex
BRADES, Montserrat -- Montserrat has stepped into the breach to host one of the tournaments in the pre-qualifying round of matches in the 2014 Caribbean Football Union Men’s Caribbean Cup.
From May 30 to June 3, teams representing Bonaire in the Dutch Caribbean, the US Virgin Islands and Montserrat will battle it out for a qualifying place in round two of the regional tournament.
The games to be played in Montserrat at the new football complex were previously planned for Dutch St Maarten.
Montserrat’s new football complex was funded by the International Football Federation (FIFA) through its FIFA Goals Project.
Over 100 visiting players and officials are expected for the tournament, which locally will feature some of the region’s best up and coming footballers, including the UK-based young Montserratians, one of whom has been selected for the England Under-21 squad.
In making the announcement, president of the Montserrat Football Association Vincent Cassell said there is high anticipation in many respects for the games to be played here.
“It suggests confidence in the Montserrat Football Association,” he said, adding that they are “working feverishly” to put the finishing touches to the local FIFA-sponsored stadium, which can seat around 500 spectators with additional capacity around the grounds.
Cassell also stated that the local facility, built to international standards, will be one of the few purpose-built football stadiums of its kind in the area with all of the features that teams, officials and fans could expect.
Montserrat is in an extensive rebuilding phase in the northern part of the island, after the Soufriere Hills volcano destroyed the capital Plymouth and rendered about two-thirds of the island uninhabitable.
About 5,000 people now live in the northern safe zone after more than the half the population were forced to flee the island due to the volcanic eruptions.
In recent years, the volcano has quietened down and the northern area, which has not been affected by the eruptions, has seen a rapid spate of ongoing residential and commercial redevelopment.
Cassell said that hosting the games also brings huge bonuses to the local economy as well as to the development of football in Montserrat, which already has a large number of Montserrat-born or connected players in the English Premier League and other levels of UK football.
“Three properties joined together to host the teams and officials... and one hotelier has described as a shot in the arm during this ‘hard guava crop time’ as she described it,” he said.
Spin-off business benefits are also in store for restaurants, taxis and car rental companies.
But it’s in the benefits to local football that the MFA president sees the biggest advantage.
“Well, you can’t measure the sort of effect a tournament like this would have on football in Montserrat,” Cassell declared.
The MFA has what Cassell described as “a vibrant youth program for boys and girls” who will now be exposed to top level regional football and will get the opportunity to interact with, especially players on the Montserrat team, some of whom are flying in from England where they are playing in national level teams. One of them, Donovan Daniel, has been selected for the England Under-21 squad.
Workshops are also planned for local football players and officials.