AS part of the build-up to the Bahamas hosting the FIFA 2017 Beach Soccer World Cup in April and May, the regional championships will be held in Nassau next week featuring 16 top teams at the impressive new $2.5 million Malcolm Park West facility.
The Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) Beach Soccer Championship will be played from February 20 to 26 with two places at the World Cup at stake.
The Bahamas, as hosts, are already guaranteed a place in the global showpiece but will be keen to impress and prove competitive action at the regional event.
Sixteen teams will take part next week, with the Bahamas drawn in Group A with Jamaica, Belize and Guyana.
Group B contains Mexico, Barbados, Canada and Guadeloupe; Group C has United States, Trinidad and Tobago, Antigua and Barbuda and the US Virgin Islands; and Group D El Salvador, Costa Rica, Panama and Turks and Caicos Islands. There will be six matches each day, kicking off at 1.45pm with the last at 8pm. There will be free entry.
The Bahamas open against Guyana on February 20, then play Belize (February 21) and Jamaica (February). All their matches kick off at 8pm.
After the group stage there will be knockout (for the top two qualifiers in each group) and placement (for the rest) rounds, so all teams will end with a ranking.
The finalists will earn the World Cup places, unless hosts Bahamas or non-FIFA member Guadeloupe advance to the final, in which case the next-highest finisher would earn the spot.
The World Cup runs from April 27 to May 7.
Again 16 teams will take part with Portugal defending the title they won on home sand two years ago. Already qualified for the World Cup are the Bahamas, Nigeria, Senegal, Brazil, Ecuador, Paraguay, Tahiti, Italy, Poland, Portugal and Switzerland. Three qualifiers will come from Asia and two from next week’s CONCACAF championships.
The beach soccer facility, built on the site of the original complex at Malcolm Park West, will be capable of hosting over 3,000 patrons and will be equipped with a number of modern amenities.
The Bahamas hosted the CONCACAF beach soccer qualifying tournament in 2013.
As part of the build up to the CONCACAF championships, today and tomorrow The Tribune is looking at the players who will represent the Bahamas, featuring profiles of the team members who carry home hopes.
Name - Kyle Ramon Williams
Age - 29
Position - Striker
Jersey Number - 5
Height - 6ft 1in
Profile - Kyle is the son of Kirk and Linda Williams. Attending the Bowling Green State University, University of Tampa and the University of International Business and Economics, Kyle is quite the entrepreneur. He played for Bears FC during his youth football career and also with St Andrew’s School Hurricanes in the Junior and Senior High. He also played football with the Bowling Green State University and University of Tampa Spartans. His playing career also took him overseas, playing for the University of International Business Collegiate squad for two years in Beijing, China. Kyle was selected and played in the 2010 and 2013 CONCACAF Beach Soccer qualifiers and is still a regular player in the Bahamas Beach Soccer team.
He says - “I enjoy being on the Bahamas Beach Soccer team as I am passionate about the game but even more about my country. Every time I step on the pitch to be able to represent my flag and country is an honour that is irreplaceable. The team also consists of a great group of guys that share the same passion for the sport making it a great environment to be a part of. My ultimate goal is to represent my country at the World Cup level and compete consistently at a professional level.”
Name - Dwayne
Nickname - “Smokey”
Age - 28
Position - Defender
Jersey Number - 8
Height - 5ft 7in
Profile - Dwayne went to CI Gibson Senior High School and played for United FC. He has played many times for the Bahamas, at Under-17, Under-20, Under-23, Bahamas Select team 2010, in Beach Soccer qualifiers 2010, 2011, 2013 and 2015. Dwayne is still a regular in the Bahamas Beach Soccer team.
He says - “Being a part of the Bahamas men’s beach soccer programme has given me the opportunity to be able to play beach soccer at a world class level. As a young Bahamian man I have never dreamed of being able to travel the world and meet players with the same love and passion that I have for this game. To interact with others from different cultures and to see how we all create magic when the ball hits this sand. My goal for this CONCACAF Beach Soccer Championship is to play hard and help motivate my teammates, to make the people of the of the Bahamas proud and through it more young men like myself can be encouraged and inspired to play beach soccer . This beach soccer programme has done so much already and it is my belief that it can change the minds of our young Bahamians about this sport. I would like to thank the BFA coaches and staff for all they have done. Also my teammates for their dedication, hard work and commitment to the BFA Beach Soccer National Programme.”
Name - Alexander Ryan
Nickname - Alex
Age - 26
Position - Defender
Jersey Number - 2
Height - 6ft 1in
Profile - Alex started in the BFA Beach Soccer national programme in 2013. He took time to focus on his studies and grass football and then returned in 2015. The programme is at a high level as the BFA has worked some of the top players and coaches in the sport from all over the world. He loves beach soccer because of the doors it has opened for him, as well as the opportunity to represent his country. He can’t forget the bicycle kicks. His goals are to become the best beach soccer player possible and to also inspire fellow Bahamians that dreams are possible through desire, discipline and hard work. Alex is still a regular player in the Bahamas Beach Soccer team.
He says - “Only through great sacrifice can you find great reward”
Name - Mark Leo Daniels
Age - 32
Position - Defender
Jersey Number - n/a
Height - 5ft 10in
Profile - Mark was born in New Providence in 1984 and by the age of four had already developed a love for the game of soccer. Throughout most of his childhood he was involved with his school team at Kingsway Academy, as well as various soccer clubs including programmes sponsored by Island Sea Food and Insurance Management. His high school soccer experience was shared between Kingsway Academy and Temple Christian High, as well as the New Providence Football League team United Football Club. He was first selected to represent the Bahamas at 14 as part of the under-17 national team, continuing to represent his country on the Under-21 and men’s national teams as a centreback and sweeper. Mark was selected as part of the Bahamas’ first men’s beach soccer team for the 2009 CONCACAF qualifiers in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Since then, he has participated in the 2011 and 2013 CONCACAF qualifiers for the Bahamas team, missing the 2015 qualifiers to pursue a Master of Science Degree in Botany from Miami University. Mark returns to the team with hopes of lifting both the CONCACAF trophy and World Cup trophy on his own home sand. Mark is still a regular player in the Bahamas beach soccer team. He has been appointed as the Kit/Equipment manager in the CONCACAF championship and the World Cup qualifiers 2017.
He says - “Defend Your Own”
Name - Gary Joseph
Age - 26
Position - Midfield
Jersey Number - 6
Height - 5ft 8in
Profile - Gary has played football most of his life. He played with Dynamos FC and has several caps playing for the Bahamas national grass team. Although Gary still plays the 11-a-side game, he has a passion for beach soccer. Gary recently became a father for the first time and is loving it. He works in construction with Capstone Construction, who gives him all the support to play for his country. Gary is still a regular player in the Bahamas Beach Soccer team.
He says - “Being a new dad, makes me play and train harder to make my son proud”