Anton Richard has been called up to serve at the national level. He will be taking his place with other players of the senior national team in the coming days, while this will be Jason Similien’s fourth cap.
The two young aspiring professionals have been on two very different paths in their careers, but both speak of the same dream: succeeding at the national level and going pro.
Richard, who is from the Dennery Village, is coming off a successful recent spell having played for the Florida College Falcons in the United States and in the Blackheart Tournament for his community. The young goalkeeper says his experience in the US represents the first part of his dream while the second half has already started in St. Lucia with the National Team.
Similien hails from the Roseau Valley and played for local club Nyabinghi. He has been in the semi-pro league in Martinique with Diamantinoise having also played for Anses d’arlet. He has high praise for the national team setup comparing it to what is expected at the semi-pro level.
Both players are convinced that the availability of good local talent is evident but highlights the need to improve the mentality and drive of the local fraternity. Similien says with the equipment and the advanced technical and intense training that is taking place the national team will improve rapidly. He added that the influence and knowledge of head coach Stern John proves that he is the right man for the job. Richard added that the effort and hard work that is required by the head coach will allow for better synergy between locally based players and those foreign based players who will join the group in the coming months. The comradery in the team presently make for better chemistry on the pitch says the national selectees.
On November 17th and 20th, St. Lucia will come up against San Marino in international friendly matches at the Daren Sammy Cricket Ground in Gros Islet. St. Lucia will have a firsthand look at local talent on display. San Marino who drew Nil-Nil with Seychelles in their last outing in September is expected to present the St. Lucia team with a good challenge as they assess the quality and progress of the team going forward. Richard and Similien are both excited about the prospect of walking out onto the playing surface to represent their country. Richard is also excited about the immense exposure that local players will get at fixtures like these. He, like others, are adamant that more outings like these will secure placement for local players outside the region which in turn will prove to be extremely valuable for St. Lucia as a footballing country.
St. Lucia currently sits 172 in the FIFA World Ranking as of 6th October 2022. In their last outings, St. Lucia beat Dominica and Anguilla 1-0 and 2-0 respectively in the CONCACAF Nations League. The return legs of those matches will be held in March of 2023. The San Marino match according to Coach John forms a strategic part of preparation and continuous assessment of the local players and the team.
A massive crowd was evident at the DSCG in Beausejour for St. Lucia’s 2-nil win against Anguilla, a 12-man factor Richard and Similien believe will help with the confidence of the local national team. While each player is sure they will see support from their respective communities they are calling for the entire nation to come out and support in their blue and yellow.
At age 22, Ed Fred has experienced the challenges and ruggedness of playing semi-professional football in the region.
Hailing from the Roseau Valley community, this versatile defender has been plying his trade in Martinique and is delighted to get an opportunity to represent the national senior men’s team.
Like many of the young players in the squad, Ed will be making his senior debut appearance for Team Saint Lucia; moving up from representation at the National U-23 level. He also wants to see the team perform well in the upcoming engagements as they prepare for next year’s regional football championships.
Speaking on his overseas stint, he explained: “I was playing for my district in Anse La Raye, when someone spoke to me about Martinique and it was my first time traveling out of the country to play for a club …and I found it was a good experience.”
Ed got a transfer from his Martiniquan club to be part of the national setup and has been going through extensive drills, mentorship and training regime set up by the technical unit. He was a member of the Team Saint Lucia squad that participated in the Nation’s League tournament, earlier this year.
Though he found having to adjust to a different environment a bit ‘taxing’ at times, however, he persevered, since “the football was nice, it was competitive and that’s how eventually I got my call up to the senior national team.”
With Saint Lucia’s football administrators in collaboration with government authorities making plans for the formation of a semi-pro football league on island, Fred feels that the overseas experience will enhance his prospects and economic fortunes.
“It has always been my dream to become a professional footballer, and if we (Saint Lucia) actually get the opportunity to engage in a semi-professional league, it will be a good experience for our players,” declared Fred. “As you notice, a lot of our players play at the amateur level and we compete against players involved in the semi- pro and professional level, so the chances for us is very slim to compete against players, playing at a higher level.”
He agrees that the semi-pro league would enable players to boost their abilities and harness their skills.
On preparations to take on San Marinho in two international friendlies, next week, Fred says the players are all eager and confident that the team will put on a good showing.
“ We have a very good crop of players and we are watching these matches as some of our biggest games …because it’s an opportunity for us to go out and represent our country , our people and for most of us , it is actually our first time playing for the country,” he asserted.
He added, “I feel in that game we will give our best, not only for ourselves but also for the people out there.”