Everybody is excited about the grand new building which has recently been erected on Lozack Road, Basseterre, but only a few close observers can really appreciate the long and eventful journey which it took to reach that very splendid destination.
The journey began in 1994 when the Football Association decided to move the game of football into the modern era. Local football became integrated into the world body known as FIFA.
By that time football had a fairly long blossom reaching back to 1932. It was for years a pleasant pastime of young athletic males and the many supporters of the various clubs which competed at Warner Park.
Although it was such a crowd pleaser, however, in its early years it was a Basseterre thing, which drew the club members mainly from Basseterre. It produced some household names like Basil Henderson, Yarder Kelsick, Bertram Ross, Austin Eddy, Alexis Knight, Frank Bodkin, Arthur Thompson to name a few that I remember. Of course later there were the two Maynard (Shine) brothers who played stylishly with their feet to the fascination of the crowded spectator line. And while I am writing I am remembering Swallow Martin the stylish centre forward and St. Clair Phillip the inside right as we referred to them in those far off days.
During the war when a man-o-war anchored in the harbour the footballers on the ship would come ashore to engage the local team and it used to be a special treat for the spectators to see these white men kick the ball with great power. Basil Henderson was a first black who earned the name Sailor for the way he emulated the seamen by kicking the ball with power, sometimes wherever his face was turned.
In 1994 the local organizers of football decided to raise the level of the game, by internationalizing in.
Wisely they looked far ahead and in 2004 they decided to launch a Youth Development program by establishing a Football Academy.
All kinds of experiments were tried and each succeeding one came closer to the goal. The result of the persistent approach has been a high lift for football in St. Kitts.
The local under–20s qualified to play the finals in Mexico, while local talent has been engaged in Indonesia, the United States and Trinidad, making a name for themselves in the game.
The under–13 sponsored by National Bank is a studied long term strategy to prepare youths for international appearances right up to World Cup matches. It is also a factor in the strategy to groom the youth into gentility from their early years. It is a well mentored program, island wide, involving not only prominent role models from the broader society but also leaders from the youth’s more immediate vicinity.
The Football Association has been such a success in its dealings with youth that the Court has taken to referring troubled youths for Community Service.
One of the more exciting developments of the Football Association is the Female Football League which is run by veteran Star Browne and Sarah Willock-Kelly.
The St. Kitts-Nevis Football Association is well reputed in the Caribbean, ranking second in organizational quality by the Caribbean Football Union Congress.
On Saturday local football will reach its pinnacle with the opening of the splendid building on Lozack Road where the island’s football activities will be centered. All this long successful journey was undertaken by Peter Jenkins and his team of volunteers. These men were committed to nurturing this fledging association in this small island into a mature and respectable entity.
The football loving public is grateful to Mr. Jenkins, his secretaries Spencer Amory, James Buchanan and the entire office staff for the high level of football with which we are entertained.