Exploring Saint Lucia’s football diaspora (sports commentary)

By Terry Finisterre, Sports Correspondent

 Share This On:

David Flavius lines up a shot.

Saint Lucia is set to host at least four men’s football matches in the next two months.

The Windward Islands Men’s Football Championships will be held in the middle of May, and the FIFA World Cup 2018 Qualifiers get underway in June.

As usual, the Saint Lucian selection for those matches will be almost exclusively home-based.

Saint Lucian football has not traditionally leaned heavily on the products of its diaspora, whilst other countries have benefited greatly from finding first and second-generation players eligible for international representation.

Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz most famously ‘discovered’ over a half-dozen British-born players including Robbie Earle, Deon Burton and Frank Sinclair on their way to the 1998 World Cup finals. Jamaica has persisted in embracing its diaspora since.

More recently, Antigua-Barbuda’s Benna Boys scaled the heights of Caribbean football, as the region’s top-ranked team. They made the third round of World Cup Qualifying with a team that included several players born in the United Kingdom.

Even Guyana, under new technical director Jamal Shabazz, have begun to embrace what may be the region’s largest groups of emigrants. They recently called up two British-born professionals as they get ready for World Cup Qualifying.

Even one-off players like Jason Roberts for Grenada’s Spice Boyz or Emmerson Boyce for Barbados have enjoyed prolonged success and have contributed to the development of the game in the country of their heritage.

Now, as outlined in an article last year on Caribbean football, there are potential disadvantages to reaching out to the diaspora. Overseas pros can create rifts in the locker room, and they are not always available due to club commitments.

But with the European season winding down, all five of Saint Lucia’s upcoming matches (including an away date to Antigua in WCQ) head coach Francis ‘Baba’ Lastic could have an unprecedented number of potential players available.

Titus Elva WCFC

FIFA rules say players must have “a clear connection” to any country with which they intend to play. You can be born there, your parents or grandparents can have been born there, or you can have lived there for a specific period.

You can even played with one country at youth level, or in friendlies at senior level, and still appear for the country of your heritage. In many cases, it is a chance for good but not outstanding players to get a taste of international football.

Bringing in overseas players also helps build interest in the national team. The communities where the players or their families are from get pumped up, and their overseas communities – and clubs and media – are suddenly your biggest fans.

With all that said, it’s strange that Saint Lucia has not reached out to its overseas players in any meaningful fashion for close to a decade. Ironically, the last time the national team relied heavily on overseas players, one of them was the current head coach.

Titus Elva had 19 official caps for Saint Lucia. He led a group from Trinidad and Tobago’s W Connection that included Lastic, Earl ‘Ball’ Hog Jean and Elijah Joseph, Romania-based Eric Fannis, David Flavius and Jarvin Skeete from the USA, between 2003 and 2006.

That group also included home-based players such as Kester Erysthee, Faustus Tobie, Emerson Jn Marie, Tennyson Glasgow and Shawn Kirton, under various national coaches. But in recent times, there have been few “overseas” players on Team Saint Lucia.

Again, W Connection, under former Saint Lucia international Stuart Charles-Fevrier, has been central. That’s where 24-year-olds fullback Kurt Frederick and midfielder Tremain Paul ply their trade along with 19-year-old midfielder Malik St Prix.

Defender Jamil Joseph also plays in Trinidad and Tobago, with Caledonia AIA. Pernal Williams has come in from L’Aiglon of Martinique, and Zachaeus Polius plays with Harbour View of Antigua-Barbuda.

Beyond those six are many unexplored options. In defence alone, the national team could conceivably call on Leon Legge, Janoi Donacien, Anton Ferdinand, Stephane Emard, Dwight Degazon and Danny Mullarkey.

Saint Lucia-born Donacien is a 21-year-old product of Aston Villa in the English Premier League, and has played much of this season on loan with Tranmere Rovers. Able to operate at various positions, he has expressed his desire to play for Saint Lucia.

Jamil Joseph

Emard, 26 years old, was called up from Canadian club Kingston FC for the 2012 Caribbean Cup, but was never given a game. Mullarkey is a relatively unknown fullback who has played for Coventry and most recently Corby Town.

Degazon is an interesting prospect. He is 22, and has played junior college, college and semi-professional football in the United States since 2012. He has trained with the national team in the past, and is very interested in representing Saint Lucia.

Gillingham’s Legge is winding down his career and is unlikely ever to get serious consideration at the age of 30. Ferdinand, like his more famous brother Rio, is the son of a Saint Lucian tailor, but he is also 30 and on the downside of his career.

In midfield, Zaine Pierre, Darel Russell, Jay Emmanuel Thomas and Junior Stanislas are among the possiblities.

Zaine, aged 21, is on loan to Messina in Italy’s fourth tier, but has struggled with injury since last playing for the national team three years ago. The dynamic defensive midfielder has also been at the centre of a contract row.

Wingers Emmanuel-Thomas and Stanislas are both in their mid-twenties and have played for clubs including Bristol City FC, West Ham United and Burnley. Both have also played for England at youth level, Stanislas up to Under-21.

Russell has long spoken of his desire to represent Saint Lucia. At the age of 34, however, time has probably run out for the British-born midfielder better known as Rusty. He plays with the Tampa Bay Rowdies in the USA.

Up front, where the national team has probably been weakest of late, Caniggia Elva is the biggest name, for a number of reasons, but Leon Knight and Dominic Poleon are also available options.

Degazon

Elva’s father, Titus, played for over a decade with the national team. His uncle Oliver was also an international. But Vieux Fort-born Caniggia, who is on loan with RC Strasbourg in France, has said that he would rather play for Canada.

Knight and Poleon are at opposite ends of their careers. Barnton’s Knight played for England U19 and U20, but over a decade ago. Oldham Athletic’s Poleon is 21 and has played youth football for Chelsea and Leeds. He has three goals this season.

It’s clear that there are options available, some more realistic than others. And some of them could certainly add to the national team. But from all appearances, Saint Lucia might just look to go with the status quo.

Feel free to suggest other potential players in the comments below.

(0)(0)
Copyright 2018 St. Lucia News Online. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or distributed.

16 comments

  1. excelent blog I am a huge Man Utd fan from sweden

    (1)(0)
  2. great article!! do one like this for basketball...................

    (1)(0)
  3. The Government of St. Lucia spend more time on facilities ( lightning ),than on coaches or development programs and that's SAD..Its nice to have lights but its should be more important that we have some decent standard of football/cricket being played under these lights.

    (1)(0)
  4. A few inconsistencies in this story. Please ensure that you get the facts right before posting. Firstly, Zaine is no longer on loan at Messina. Secondly, it is very misleading to say that Caniggia has declared that he would rather play for Canada. He has never said that. He is simply on record as saying that Canada offers more opportunity to be seen on the international level. And is he wrong? But that does not say that he has said that he would rather play for Canada.
    And concerning the Zaine contract issue, until he comes out and speaks about it, we should stop assuming.
    I agree and support everything else that was said in the article.

    (0)(0)
    • Terry Finisterre

      Thanks for the reminder on Zaine. Last with Aversa Normanna, as reported here on SNO earlier this season, but presently out injured (again).

      You're wrong on Caniggia, however, on two counts.

      1) It has been reported in multiple outlets that he has expressed a desire to play for Canada. See blow.

      2) As to your contention that Canada "offers more opportunity" I can't say that that is the case. Where are all the Canadian internationals getting all this supposed exposure?

      "Elva has already expressed a desire to play for Canada — once his long-awaited immigration papers are settled.

      ""He wants to play for Canada," said Mifflin."

      http://www.calgarysun.com/2014/02/26/local-soccer-star-caniggia-ginola-elva-starstruck-after-ing-tryout-with-englands-arsenal-fc

      (0)(0)
  5. "Elva’s father, Titus, played for over a decade with the national team. His uncle Oliver was also an international. But Vieux Fort-born Caniggia, who is on loan with RC Strasbourg in France, has said that he would rather play for Canada."

    So why isn't Elva trying to encourage his son to play for his country St Lucia? He is not Canadian and never will be.The uncle and all should be doing his bit to lure this young man into the St Lucian fold. If anything this guy has shown nothing but contempt for the national team.To him St Lucian football is beneath consideration.Who do you blame for such wilful disobedience? He is openly disrespectful.

    Well If he is not willing to play Janoi Donacien who was born in Choiseul and have been living in Luton for the past 12 years ever since coming to the UK to live with his mother and other siblings is willing to. He is willing to play for his country. He is St Lucian born and partially bred. He is a shining example and the other Lucians who are plying their trade in the European and American leagues should follow his example.St Lucia has a better chance of making it to the World Cup now than ever before. Canada is not going to the World Cup In 2018. They don't have the players. They were there in 1986.

    There are enough players both at home and abroad who are committed to the cause. They need to play like professionals and with the will to succeed.They need to Perish the thought of failure and of people saying 'St Lucia cannot make it to Russia'. I believe St Lucia can get there if they put on a good show and a dedicated attitude to winning. I am old enough to remember Haiti in the 1974 World Cup In Germany. No one gave them a chance yet they went on to represent themselves and the Caribbean being the second regional team to do so after Cuba in 1938.

    The Haitians had a firm belief in themselves and with that they went all the way. St Lucia need to do the same. The problem is there isn't many motivational people in the St Lucian set-up to help motivate the players and to make them believe that they can make it. Apart from the coach there should be others who can instil confidence in every one of the players. There should be no "ifs and buts" Instead it should be replaced with "YES WE CAN". I an one of the few who believe the national team can make it if they explore the right approach. Follow Cuba's example in 1938, Haiti 1974, Jamaica 1998. Trinidad 2006. They were all eager to get to these tournaments and they got there in the end. They not only represented their respective islands but Our Lovely Caribbean.

    The match with Antigua will be crucial. Should St Lucia fail to beat Antigua then they will be out of the qualifying stages. They will have to wait until the next tournament in Qatar in 2022. That is why they will need their best players. The dozy St Lucian FA should invest in the services of a rep in Europe. Someone who will work on identifying players willing to play for St Lucia, who are Lucians or of Lucian origins. St Lucia simply cannot afford to fail against Antigua.

    They should also organise international friendlies with European teams like Ireland, Wales, Scotland, Holland,Belgium. Slovakia. These teams are always willing to play friendlies with countries from Africa, Caribbean and pacific region (ACP). The FA isn't doing enough to allow international exposure. St Lucia needs this type of exposure so she can expand and become a force to be reckoned with on the football stage.

    Anton Ferdinand will not play for St Lucia if he was available. The FA need to be realistic and stop the name-dropping. There are plenty of other competent players available. Anton's father Julian Ferdinand is from Barons Drive In Soufriere. He is from the Bonaparte family. Some of whom don't even want to associate with their place of origin.. Don't tell them they are from Barons Drive(Cwalance)

    At The end of the day St Lucia needs 11 good players who will go on to win every qualifying match to get to the World Cup. With Gusto, determination, hunger, passion and the will to succeed they can make it. I wish the St Lucia national team all the very best and may they get to Russia in 2018. Go St Lucia go!!!

    (1)(0)
  6. Terry Finnistiere check St. Croix there is a wealth of Lucian talent over there. Helenites

    (1)(0)
  7. My son plays great football here in the UK although he was born in the UK, I am sure he would love to play for St.Lucia as he has said it before, he loves St.Lucia.

    (1)(0)
  8. For all u don't know its has nothing to do with the f a it's the law of the land need to change if u third generation u can't play for slu most. Of these players are

    (0)(1)
  9. I have always wondered why we as a people are averse to embracing St. Lucians who have excelled out of St. Lucia....whether it be in sports, academics, or any other area. What is the reasoning behind this phobia? Is it a lack of confidence? Are we afraid that our small minded thinking and ways of doing things will be exposed by those who have lived out of St. Lucia and have experienced more advanced more developed ways of doing things? Why don't we embrace our brothers and sisters who have so much to contribute to our developing country. We still have so much to learn. It breaks my heart to see persons who have excelled out of St. Lucia wanting to contribute to the country of their birth only to be ostracized by their own people...the ones who really need their expertise.

    (1)(0)
  10. We need to stop fooling ourselves about qualifying for world cup. We really need to asked ourselves what have we done differently after 25 years of football. You will be ignorant to tell me better playing facility. Without these facilities we produced better footballers 25 years ago. We only train (Team training) our prospective player at the under 15 level. No proper basic training before that. A typical example: when Caniggia left St Lucia there were a number of his friends in this small area around his home, who were as good as he was or better. Now he is way more advanced that them. Why? No proper programs, just lots of dam facilities. Some, including Terry, may disagree but I firmly believe what we need to do is invest in better programs without the fancy facilities. Why should I pay to watch our players including national players who can't even stop a ball properly? How often do our players kick from outside of the penalty area? And we want to qualify for world cup? It a joke to Laugh. Dream on. I will support soccer and sports in general, only when we are serious about sport and not the mediocre standard we all seem to be excited about on our sports shows. Yes we have the potential because I see the natural talent and interest in our 10-15 year old.

    (0)(1)
  11. good article but i dont think the f a will look to those players mentioned at all i can see at least five or six players you mentioned fitting well into our team and we being very competitive in the world cup qualifiers against antigua.

    (1)(0)
  12. Zaccheus Polius plays for Parham FC in Antigua and ot Harbour View to me Harbour View is a tem from jamaica

    (1)(0)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.