By Dean “The Sportsman” Greenaway
Luka Chalwell became the first BVI player to score a goal in the Concacaf U20 Boys Championships and Jake Forbes scored the second in the next match, as their goals helped the team to back to back 1-0 victories over St. Maarten and Dominica respectively, on Thursday and Saturday, in the Dominican Republic. The victories came after 7-0 and 4-0 losses to Curacao and Grenada respectively. BVI placed third in Group A with a 2-2 record.
Chalwell scored in the 70th minute in the win over St. Maarten while Forbes scored from a penalty in the 38th against Dominica.
“The guys really dug deep tonight and did what we asked them to do,” said Coach Clinton “Tinnie” Percival after the Dominica game, noting that Chalwell was ineligible for the game because of an accumulation of cards, while captain Ikajah Williams came down with an illness. “The other players decided they’d play and play to the best of their ability and represent the players who couldn’t play. They fought really hard. Did what we asked them to do working as a team, trying to make sure what we do was collectively, I couldn’t ask for more tonight.”
Percival said after Chalwell was ruled out of the game, the guys playing the middle (Jake Forbes, Johari Lacey and Deshawn Richardson) were between 14-16, they worked hard and the future looks good for them. “I’m so proud to be working with them and I know we can only go from strength to strength,” he said. “These guys played basically for the first time as a unit and I can commend them more because the effort that they put in tonight was wonderful. There’s always room for improvement but I can’t ask for more than what I got tonight. They did well, and I’m just proud of them.”
After the 1-0 victory over St. Maarten, Percival said the team was a ‘work in progress’ as they entered the tournament knowing that they weren’t exactly where they wanted to be. He said they were trying to get players to learn to play ‘good football,’ learning to keep the ball and stop working so hard to get the ball.
“When we work hard to get the ball, do the things to keep it and do the things we know we can do,” he explained. “I saw the game against Grenada, we work really hard so this win tonight wasn’t really a surprise to me because I told the guys if they continued to work as hard as we want them to work and work as a unit, what they achieved tonight, it was always in the pipeline. I’m not too surprised and I’m very, very proud of the effort they gave us.”
Over the course of the championships, Percival said the team has learned that when they work as a unit, as a team they can achieve great things and if they put in the hard work, the result will come.
“I kept telling them a positive attitude brings positive vibes,” he said. “I’m just looking forward to them going back home and trying to work individually and improve on what they have already. I think they have learned that hard work brings success.”
A challenge for the team is not having all players in the same place for training as there are several overseas based players on the squad. Percival said they used the off days between competitions to work as a unit. “We tried to keep it as simple as possible and asked them to work hard,” he said. “It’s challenging, but it’s something we have to learn to deal with. Maybe going forward, before any tournament, we can try and get the guys together for at least a week, but that will always be a challenge because we’ll always have players from overseas and we’ll have a lot of local based players and that’s important for me right now.”
In the past, teams were made up of more overseas based players, but this squad had 60-70% of players based in the BVI.
“That’s a very good thing going forward,” he said. “So I see a good future for the team.”