By Dean “The Sportsman” Greenaway
Visiting Cayman Islands and the BVI will face off at 4 p.m. on Friday, on the A. O. Shirley Grounds, in the first CONCACAF Nations League home match ever played in the territory.
In their fifth encounter, the BVI is in search of its first victory over the Cayman Islands against whom they have a 0-3-1 mark.
Coach Chris Kiwomya who took over coaching duties in October, said that the team has been making strides and there are good young players coming forward, as he has been working to improve the team’s play, the mentality and professionalism.
“I think the future looks bright if we can keep giving the foundation to improve, they’ll grow together,” he said during their final camp this week. “We’ve been working on everything—just the tactical side of the game which I think is very important—the tactics in football when teams are playing each other is really important, to and understanding of the formations and obviously passing and receiving the ball, which is the simplest part of the game. You’ve got to be able to pass and control the ball first.”
With players who are based in the United Kingdom, Kiwomya has organized several camps both in the BVI and the UK, trying to get the team blending and getting to know the personalities and become close as a team. He said bringing players from England, Tortola and Virgin Gorda together, is a ‘good blend.’ “We all like each other and that’s the main thing,” he said. “They work hard and they’re getting better. You like working with young players who want to learn and they are getting better. We’ve had a number of training sessions and you can see we’re passing around and we want to try and play the right way—putting the ball in the goal. I think once we do that, the confidence will grow and grow.”
Finishing has been a challenge for the BVI and Kiwomya said they have been working on that, building player’s confidence and giving them practice opportunities.
“We want to put on a good show, we want to compete and try and win a game,” he said. “A win would be nice but it won’t be easy. We haven’t won a game in many years, but we know where we’re coming from. We’re making good strides and want the boys to give their best and if they do that, I’ll be happy with that.”
Goalkeeper Coach Darren Smith, said he has been working with players on their technique. Mekhi Walters he said is ‘really athletic’ but his technique at times could be better and has been working on improving that aspect. Daniel Gilford has a good ‘set of hands’ Smith said, but his coordination and footwork at times could be better.
“We’re trying to improve those little bits to make their goal keeping a little easier and improve them as goalies,” Smith said. “We’ve done a lot of footwork, technique work, handling, positioning around the goal, speed around the goal. We’ve also done different types of saves using different techniques, so they’re having to work on their decision making, thinking about what they’re doing, what type of saves they’re trying to make, that will make it easier for them come Friday hopefully.”
Goalies Mekhi Walters and Daniel Gilford, said that they have been learning a lot with Smith, with Gilford saying: “I’ve learned a lot about sharpening and footwork and getting your head and body behind the ball,” he said. “It has improved my game because I’m a goalkeeper that doesn’t like to come out of the box and attack the ball much. From day one, Coach Smith asked how I do my keeping so he can work on a program for making my keeping better.”
The BVI has been blanked in 23 of their last 32 games. They will travel to face Cayman Islands on Tuesday, Puerto Rico on June 12 and host them on June 19.
BVI players and their clubs are: Mekhi Walters, VG United; Daniel Gilford, VG United; Kristian Javier, AC Commonwealth; Denvin Jones, Rebels; Jerry Wiltshire, Maidenhead United; Kavon Troy Caesar, Islanders; Miguel Marshall, Champion Academy; Phillip Nelson, Wolues; Carlos Septus, One Love; Ikyjah Williams, Rebels; Jamie Wilson, Wolues; Justin Smith, One Love, T’Sharne Gallimore, Chesham United; Luka Chalwell, Islanders; Liam Blok, Wolues; Quelahni Nickie, VG United; Tyler Forbes, One Love; Jake Forbes, One Love; Makimbo Demming, VG United; Luca Reich, Wolues; Giovanni Grant, VG United; Aljeandro Santos, One Caribbean; Tai Thomas, One Caribbean and Sheldon Toney, VG United.