The Bahamas is trying to get out of the bottom batch of the FIFA (International Federation of Association Football) world rankings in men’s soccer, and the Student-Athlete Resources and Support (STARS) program is doing its part, staging a college soccer showcase for high school student-athletes on Friday and Saturday of this week. The Friday session will be held at the National Training Agency on Gladstone Road and on Saturday, the showcase will be held at the Roscoe A.L. Davies Soccer Field.
The showcase is for students in grades nine to 12 and also for those student-athletes who graduated last year. The girls showcase for Saturday, is from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., and the boys’ showcase for that same day will be held from 3-9 p.m.
Leading the charge on this program is Jurelle Nairn-Mullings, coordinator of STARS in the Ministry of Education’s Scholarship and Educational Loan Division. She said five colleges will be represented, and that this showcase is the first of its kind.
“The soccer showcase is an exciting two-day event that is going to provide so much opportunities for our soccer student-athletes in the inter-scholastic soccer system. We have five college coaches who will be in attendance with the sole purpose of recruiting Bahamian students-athletes. They are coming with scholarships so once the students show up with the skills and they have the academic requirements needed to get into the school, they will have an opportunity,” Nairn-Mullings said.
The five schools that will be represented are Arizona Western College, Dodge City Community College, East Tennessee State University, Truman College/Oakton Community College and the University of The Bahamas (UB).
East Tennessee State is a National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I school. UB has National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) provisional membership through the Sun Conference and the other three schools are members of the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA).
Tapping into the soccer showcase livestream on both days will be 30 other colleges and universities from all levels and divisions.
The ministry has partnered with the Bahamas Football Association (BFA) and corporate partners – Glinton, Sweeting and O’Brien (GSO) Legal Counsel, Breezes Resort and BahamasLocal.com in making the showcase possible.
Darron Pickstock, partner at GSO Legal, said: “Our firm is very proud to be a sponsor because we do recognize the importance that sports play in the lives of students. We are encouraged and we stand behind you (Ministry of Education) and hopefully this also becomes a fixture on the calendar. Hopefully we can continue our support for this program.”
Deputy Secretary General of the BFA Carl Lynch said the local governing body for soccer fully endorses the showcase and will continue to work with the ministry to enhance the event.
“Our association fully endorses this event which gives our young footballers an opportunity to be seen by college coaches. With this opportunity, a few or most of them, hopefully will prove themselves and are afforded the opportunity to further their education while playing at the collegiate level. We will continue to work with the ministry to enhance this event so that it becomes a fixture on the national sports calendar,” he said.
Lynch encouraged players to take advantage of the opportunity.
There are 54 student-athletes already registered – 36 male and 18 female. They are from four different islands – Acklins, Eleuthera, Grand Bahama and New Providence. A mixture of public and private school student-athletes have signed up.
One of those registrants is Gabrielle Murphy, a student-athlete at St. Augustine’s College (SAC). She said this is a great opportunity for a lot of students.
“I think this is a good opportunity for a lot of students, especially soccer because over here in The Bahamas, it is not recognized or taken as serious as it should be,” said Murphy. “We put in the same amount of work as other athletes in different sports. I believe that this is a good opportunity to be exposed to different colleges and get a chance to show our skills to different parts of the world. I may not want to play here but I may want to go to Europe, Canada or somewhere else and with this being put on, it gives me an opportunity to do that.”
Scott Sawyer, another student at SAC, said: “I also feel that this would be a good opportunity for most soccer students and also those who wouldn’t be financially able to go to college on their own. With the assistance of the lovely people here, we can do that and try our best to make it somewhere in life.”
Daria Adderley, head senior girls soccer coach for SAC and coach for Cavalier, said there is a lot of talent in the country, and this is an opportunity for college scouts to witness that. Adderley is also a former national team coach.
“It is a great experience and exposure for our kids. We have so many talented athletes, especially soccer players in the country, and this coming weekend, the colleges coming in will be able to see the talent that we have. It is a great opportunity to get our kids off to play collegiate soccer,” Adderley said.
On Friday, there will be a welcome session that includes a student and parent information session along with a coach meet and greet. That is scheduled for the National Training Agency on Gladstone Road from 6-8 p.m.
Interested persons can sign up online at the website www.bahamastars.com/event/snss and by clicking the ‘players register here’ link, or contact Nairn-Mullings at telephone number (242) 502-9025. The cost is $30 per athlete.
Education: College of the Bahamas, BA Media Journalism