It has been a good year for celebrating saint Lucians on the international stage in various disciplines–and we are only just winding down the month of February. First there was news in early January that two Saint Lucian models Jeannel Thomas and Amy Brown had landed international contracts with L.A. Then there was the euphoric atmosphere island-wide after Chef Nina Compton made it to the finals of the popular Bravo TV reality series Top Chef. Then in February the island hit the international spotlight when it was revealed that Sports Illustrated for its 50th anniversary Swimsuit Edition had used Saint Lucia as the backdrop for the hot swimsuit models featured. There was more great news for the vital tourism industry this week with airing of the first of a two-part finale of the popular reality show The Bachelor on ABC.
So it was with once again a sense of pride and joy that several Saint Lucians Lucians on Thursday started Facebooking and Tweeting the news that a Saint Lucian footballer based in Canada was trying out for a major football club in England.
According to the Calgary Sun Thursday, 17-year old Caniggia ‘Ginola’ Elva who is based in Calgary is currently in England, trying out for one of the world’s top soccer sides, Arsenal F.C. “Even landing a tryout with the Premiership’s second-place team, known to fans as the Gunners, is a stunning achievement for the youth, who moved to Calgary from the Caribbean island of Saint Lucia at the age of 12,” reports The Sun’s Michael Platt.
The management of Arsenal reportedly flew Elva first-class to London on Monday. A video of the Calgarian showing off his skills hasn’t hurt — and it’s said that footage helped convince the Arsenal bosses to give Elva a shot.
Several Canadian coaches have described the teenager as the most skilled soccer player Canada has ever produced.
The young Elva is the son of Saint Lucia’s national footballer Titus Elva. And although his father represented his country at the international level, the younger Elva has already expressed a desire to play for Canada — once his long-awaited immigration papers are settled.
“I am extremely grateful and humbled by this opportunity. I am a lifelong Thierry Henry fan, and it’s a dream come true to be at this great club!!” wrote Elva via an email from England.
He was also quick to praise his Calgary club for getting him this shot at the big leagues.
“If it wasn’t for my family, teammates from Southwest United 96-97’s, my coaches, and SWU the best club in Calgary, this opportunity would have never happened” Elva is reported to have written in an email.
The try-out for Arsenal follows a trial and offers to play professionally in Stuttgart, Germany — but there has also been interest from Barcelona, and Benfica, who want a look at the Calgary forward.
Certainly, this news is a welcomed boost of confidence and a source of inspiration for all young footballers on the island and certainly the youth of Saint Lucia in general.