By RENALDO DORSETT
THREE young soccer players have capitalized on the opportunity of a lifetime and begun a path toward a professional career with an international club.
Perry Brooks, Valdere Murphy, and Dwight Darling (no photo available) were selected to the Dayton Dutch Lions FC Super 20 League squad, following a trial session hosted by Youth Empowerment through Soccer International (YESI) and the Lions’ technical director Cor van Hoeven.
Brooks and Murphy, both members of the COB Caribs soccer team, are scheduled to travel to Houston today to immediately join the Lions in preparation for the season which opens on Saturday (May 26).
Darling, a 14-year-old ninth grader at SC McPherson, is expected to join the team on June 6 following the completion of his BJC national examinations.
The Super-20 League is the longest standing and most sophisticated U20 men's and women's North American amateur league. It provides the platform for top 17 to 20-year-olds in the US and Canada to compete at the elite level while serving as a reserve team system for many W-League, PDL and MLS teams.
The USL Super-20 League features teams competing in the summer months – May 26 to June 30.
In preparation for their debut with the club, the players have been training with former Lions player and YESI founder Happy Hall for the past several weeks and current pro Cameron Hepple, now with Farborough of Conference South in the English football system.
Brooks, who plays right wing/striker and is an architect major at COB, said the training sessions have improved his game tremendously and have given him greater confidence on his way to the next level.
“This opportunity means a lot to me because the exposure and high level training can only help with my progression in soccer. Playing with COB this past year has helped tremendously because the consistent training sharpened my skills and made me a stronger person and player,” he said.
“Working with Happy and Cameron, having a chance to get in so much first-hand work with guys who have played at the professional level means a lot to us. I definitely feel like I have gotten stronger, faster, smarter and have a better sense of what to expect in terms of the speed of the game,” said Brooks.
Murphy, who plays left-wing and is a law and criminal justice major, said he has seen the impact the training sessions have had in the rapid development of his game.
“It has assisted in my development as a player. It has made a big difference already and we can immediately see the dividends in our games. It has been an excellent benefit to have such a hands-on training experience and at such a high level. I think we may have even been a little shocked and surprised at how much we have improved,” said Murphy.
This weekend, both players played their final BFA Senior League games with the Caribs for the year.
Brooks finished with a hat trick in one game while Murphy finished with three assists on the week.
Hall said the performances of the three players can be a major factor in opening doors for other Bahamian players in the Super 20 or other professional leagues. “I was impressed at how great they have done over the past few weeks. The greatest improvement they have made has been in their conditioning. When we first started, they scored a 7.6 and 8.6 on the beep test, now in our latest test, they both scored 13,” he said. “Just to reference that, collegiate programmes usually require their players to score at least an 11 on their beep test so you can see the level their fitness is at right now. It has clearly carried over to their games as well so I have high hopes for them, it’s just up to them now to go out and prove it,” Hall added.
A “beep test” is fitness testing that is done at many schools and colleges and employed by many international sporting teams as an accurate test of cardiovascular fitness.
YESI is a non-profit organisation founded with the goal in mind of creating opportunities for underprivileged children to experience the benefits of organised sports through soccer programmes.
These programmes are intended to foster the development of life skills through teamwork and perseverance while building relationships and confidence amongst peer groups.
In addition, they aim to give kids every possible opportunity to pursue their dreams through soccer on an international scale. Persons interested in assisting YESI or the players in their progression with the Lions can contact YESI at