It’s been referred to as a unique opportunity and quite possibly a life changing one. That’s how a high profile ex-footballer who played for several premier league football teams, referred to Search for a Star St Lucia which provides two St Lucian footballers the opportunity to travel from St Lucia, to showcase their talent to coaches with the Tottenham Hotspurs Football Club (THFC) in the United Kingdom.
The high profile ex-footballer is Les Ferdinand of St Lucian parentage. He was recently here along with Assistant Technical Director at THFC, Chris Ramsey, to explain what Search for a Star St Lucia is all about by way of a press conference Saturday Morning at the Players Pavilion, Beausejour Cricket Ground. Also in attendance was Minister of Sports, Lenard Montoute, Director of Tourism, Louis Lewis; and Permanent Secretary in the Department of Youth and Sports, Donovan Williams.
How did this particular initiative come about? Leslie Fevrier, a successful football scout, saw some exceptional football talent while hosting a football tour here in 2009. He noted that a number of players demonstrated exceptional talent and felt if these players had been identified earlier, they could possibly play at a professional level.
Ferdinand believes there is lots of talent in St Lucia that is untapped and pointed out that he’s seen players come from Jamaica, Trinidad and other islands in the Caribbean come to the premiere, gone into English football and done pretty well.
In further explaining the concept behind Search for a Star St Lucia, Ramsey said: “We hope to carry this out by working in conjunction with the St Lucia Football Association (SLFA) and the 19 affiliates that are presently in St Lucia, to guide us in choosing the best players for our final trial taking place in June.”
The plan is to divide the island into four areas, north, south, east and west with a two-day training camp set up in area beginning as early as June 11. Each area will have three training sessions over the two-day period. Boys aged 16 plus will be invited to participate in the trials and display their skills to two coaches and a scout from the THFC. Sixteen players from each area will be invited to one location on the island, where they will take part in a further set of intensive tests on the final two days. From here a maximum of two boys will be chosen, to travel to the UK where they will undergo training over a two week period at the THFC.
Upon completion, Ferdinand and Ramsey along with the coaching staff at the THFC who have monitored the boy’s progress during their trial period, will decide if a contract should be awarded to any of the boys.
Minister Montoute gave the visitors his blessing. He said: “This initiative has government’s full support and we are very excited about the whole concept. We believe this is a golden opportunity to give our young footballers in St Lucia an opportunity to go further afield and develop themselves and make a profession out of football should they land a professional contract.”
Speaking on behalf of the SLTB, Lewis said: “We fully support and endorse this project. It is a very unique opportunity that we have now from two perspectives. One is that the tourist board has always been keenly interested in promoting sports tourism and I think concept fits well down that stream.”
He mentioned that the second reason deals with the tourist board having always seen the importance of the Diaspora as a market for promoting the destination.