It was by no means a World Cup victory, but based on St Lucia’s past performance against regional opponents, winning the Windward Islands Senior Football Tournament in Dominica was cause for celebration and then some.
The victorious St Lucia team arrived at JF Charles Monday at approximately 11:30 am and received a warm welcome home from officials at a reception held in their honor in the VIP lounge. They were greeted by Minister of Youth Development and Sports Shawn Edward; Cabinet Secretary, Darrel Montrope and Permanent Secretary, Fortuna Belrose.
St Lucia won the tournament following two victories and a tie. In their opening game last Wednesday, St Lucia defeated 2-0 and followed that up with a 1-0 win over Grenada. In their final game Sunday against St Vincent and the Grenadines, St Lucia did what they had to do to emerge victorious—tie or beat the Vincentians. The game ended in scoreless tie but St Lucia won the title.
Zaehaeus Polius of St Lucia emerged the MVP of the Tournament and Grenada was awarded the Fair Play Trophy. In the battle for third place, Grenada beat Dominica 5-3 after falling behind 3-1.
At the welcome reception, Third Vice President of the St Lucia Football Association (SLFA), Kendall Emmanuel thanked the ministry for their support and said. “I want everyone to know it was by no means an easy process. We had to really work hard in order to get the result we got. I applaud the guys for their level of discipline, commitment and the team spirit that was in the camp throughout the duration of the tournament.”
Technical Director, Ces Podd who has always preached patience when it came to St Lucia football team, referred to the tournament as “something we have prepared and planned for a long time. We are probably a year in advance of this success we achieved. We knew that come 2015 we would be ready to compete against the top.”
He gave high praise to Coach Francis “Baba” Lastic and Assistant Coach, Anthony Jn Baptiste and said: “That combination was exactly what we needed for this tournament. We had a plan and they stuck to it. Not only did they stick to the plan, but they were able to gel the guys together.”
Podd rarely singles out an individual player, preferring instead to base success on team work. This time around he couldn’t help himself. He made special mention of 20 year old Gervan Janvier who made his debut and scored in two of the three games.
Coach Lastic was brief and to the point. He spoke of team unity in a manner only his players understood and they gave him a loud round of applause.
Minister Edward congratulated the team but cautioned them about becoming too complacent.
“Being the champion of the Windwards does not in any way suggest that you have arrived,” said Edward. “You still have a long way to go, but it represents a very important start. It gives us an idea of where we are in comparison to our Windward counterparts.”