Anton Richard has been called up to serve at the national level. He will take his place with other senior national team players in the coming days, as this will be Jason Similien’s fourth selection.
The two budding young professionals have followed two very different paths in their careers, but both talk about the same dream: succeeding at national level and going pro.
Richard, who hails from the village of Dennery, is coming off of recent success 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 United States represents the first part of his dream as the second half has already started in Saint Lucia with the national team.
Similien is from the Roseau Valley and played for local club Nyabinghi. He played in the semi-pro league in Martinique with the Diamantinoise who also played at Anses d’arlet. He praises the national team setup comparing it to what is expected at semi-professional level.
Both players are confident that the availability of good homegrown talent is evident but underlines the need to improve the mentality and drive of the local fraternity. Similien says that with the equipment and the advanced and intense technical training taking place, the national team will improve rapidly. He added that the influence and knowledge of head coach Stern John proves he is the right person for the job. Richard added that the effort and hard work required by the head coach will allow for better synergy between the locally based players and the overseas based players who will join the group in the coming months. The camaraderie within the team is currently improving the chemistry on the pitch, according to the national teams.
On November 17 and 20, Saint Lucia will face San Marino in international friendlies at the Daren Sammy cricket ground in Gros Islet. Saint Lucia will get a first-hand look at the homegrown talent on display. San Marino, who drew against Seychelles in their last outing in September, should present the Saint Lucia side with a good challenge as they assess the quality and progress of the squad at the coming. Richard and Similien are both excited to step onto the playing surface to represent their country. Richard is also excited about the immense exposure that homegrown players will get in fixtures like these. He, like others, is confident that more outings like these will ensure the placement of local players outside the region, which will prove extremely valuable for Saint Lucia as a football nation.
Saint Lucia currently sits 172nd in the FIFA World Rankings as of October 6, 2022. In their last outings, Saint Lucia beat Dominica and Anguilla 1-0 and 2-0 respectively in the CONCACAF Nations League . The second legs of these games will take place in March 2023. According to coach John, the San Marino game is a strategic part of the preparation and the continuous evaluation of the local players and the team.
A massive crowd was present at the DSCG in Beausejour for Saint Lucia’s 2-0 win over Anguilla, a factor of 12 players which Richard and Similien believe will boost confidence in the local national team. While each player is sure to see support from their respective communities, they are calling on the entire nation to come forward and support in blue and yellow.
At 22, Ed Fred has experienced the challenges and roughness of playing semi-professional football in the region.
Hailing from the Roseau Valley community, this versatile defender plies his trade in Martinique and is thrilled to have the opportunity to represent the senior men’s national team.
Like many of the team’s young players, Ed will be making his senior debut for the Saint Lucia side; moving from representation to the national U-23 level. He also wants to see the team perform well in future engagements as they prepare for the regional football championships next year.
Speaking about his time abroad, he explained: “I was playing for my district in Anse La Raye, when someone told me about Martinique and it was the first time I had traveled outside the country. to play for a club… and I thought it was a good experience.”
Ed secured a transfer from his Martinique club to be part of the national setup and went through numerous drills, mentorship and training regime put in place by the technical unit. He was a member of the Saint Lucia squad that took part in the Nations League tournament earlier this year.
Although he sometimes found having to adapt to a different environment a bit ‘exhausting’, he nevertheless persevered, because ‘football was fun, it was competitive and that’s how I finally got called into the game. ‘senior national team’.
As Saint Lucia’s football administrators, in conjunction with government authorities, plan the formation of a semi-professional football league on the island, Fred believes the overseas experience will improve his prospects and his economic wealth.
“It has always been my dream to become a professional footballer, and if we (Saint Lucia) really have the opportunity to engage in a semi-professional league, it will be a good experience for our players,” said Fred. “As you notice, many of our players play at amateur level and we play players involved in semi-professional and professional levels, so the chances for us to compete against players, playing at a higher level, are very slim.”
He agrees that the semi-professional league would allow players to build their abilities and exploit their skills.
On preparations to face San Marino in two international friendlies next week, Fred says the players are all eager and confident the team will perform well.
“We have a very good crop of players and we look at these games as some of our greatest games…because it’s an opportunity for us to come out and represent our country, our people and for most of us. us, it’s actually our first time playing for the country,” he said.
He added: “I think in this match we will do our best, not only for ourselves, but also for the people.”