SLFA Partners with English League One Team

On the extreme left is St Lucia Football Association Technical Director Ces Podd with professional goalkeeping coach Glan Letheren (centre) and Coach/Manager of Carlisle United in the UK Greg Abbott at Sunday’s Blackheart football doubleheader.

The St Lucia Football Association (SLFA) is hosting Greg Abbott, Coach/Manager of English League One club Carlisle United for two weeks, as part of a new collaboration.
Abbott arrived on island recently as part of the Association of The Year’s long-term development thrust for local football.

As part of the collaboration with Carlisle United, brokered by SLFA Technical Director Ces Podd, Abbott will help train St Lucia’s national team players in the run-up to crucial Olympic and World Cup qualifiers and work with local SLFA affiliates over the next two weeks. Expected to accompany Abbott is his son Leigh, who is the Club’s Head of Recruitment and the man responsible for bringing new football players to the team.
The collaboration with Carlisle United has also seen the club agree to take two promising young St. Lucian players to England for pre-season training in July. The club has agreed to accommodate the players for two weeks and provide all food and lodging free of cost.
While sending players for trials to UK clubs is a challenging route for youngsters from the region, it is highly unusual for a current English professional team manager to spend his off-season training with a national team. Carlisle has also illustrated tremendous commitment to the partnership, by agreeing to take local players even prior to the visit.
The 47-year-old Abbott is a former professional player and highly sought after coach. His Carlisle United team had a successful season, winning the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy at Wembley Stadium and finishing 12th in League One.

Squad training for several upcoming international tournaments has been underway for some time. The SLFA currently has an Under 17 team working towards a major international tournament in the US and is working with the Ministry of Youth and Sports preparing a team for the Windward Island games later in the year.
In early June, the national senior team will play World Cup pre-qualifier games against Aruba both home and away. And, the SLFA has an Under-23 team in training for Olympic qualifiers in July. A Women’s Under-20 team is also working towards regional competition later in 2011.

Abbott and Carlisle’s head of recruitment is also here with leading goal keeping Coach Glan Letheren.  He will spend a week working with local goal keepers to help strengthen an area of weakness. This program will shortly be followed by a FIFA goal keeping course in St Lucia in a bid to encourage local goal keepers and their coaches.

Letheren’s CV is packed with work as both a professional goal keeper and a top coach. He is the current academy goal keeping coach at English Premier League team Fulham FC and a former Under-18 coach for the Welsh national team under goal scoring legend Ian Rush. Letheren was also the Leicester City first team goal keeping coach and has worked as a scout for Manchester United and consulted for Liverpool FC and Stoke City.

He is in St Lucia for one week, thanks to Bay Garden Resorts which is the official hotel partner of the SLFA.

Affiliates and players interested in working with the coaches from the UK are urged to contact the SLFA office on 758-456-0509.

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