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The original Baltimore Bays were charter members of the National Professional Soccer League, back in 1967, and then played in the North American Soccer League.
But the name has been used by two professional teams since, and since 2002, the Baltimore Bays has been a youth football organisation operating as a joint venture between the Soccer Club of Baltimore and the Baltimore Football Club.
The Baltimore Bays joined the US Development Academy in 2007 and entered into a football development partnership with Chelsea FC in December of 2008.
So why am I telling you all this?
Well, it just so happens that in 2014, Nigel Gustave joined Bays Chelsea 98/99. In his first tournament, they took second place in the PA Classics U15. This year, the emerging premier elite powerhouse won the 2015 Potomac Memorial and and Krikwood Tournament.
But who is Nigel Gustave, you ask? Good question.
Nigel is a 5’10” 155-pound central midfielder, born on 4 March 1999 in Baltimore, Maryland, but he feels very much Saint Lucian. “My father used to play soccer all the time in the motherland,” he explains. “So when my dad came over from Saint Lucia and had me, it was no question that I would play too. I started paying rec soccer and worked my way up to club, and finally to one of the top teams in the nation.”
Nigel, who is the nephew of DJ Rusty Ranks, admires Andrea Pirlo, Steven Gerrard and Petr Cech, as players who are “loyal and hard working.” He says the influence of one man in particular has seen his game grow from strength to strength in the past 18 months.
“My club coach, Adam Mizell, took me from a team that was going nowhere and brought be to the Bays. He really helped me improve when my game was at a standstill.” An only child, Nigel also credits a long-time teammate. “My friend Pablo also helped me as well. He’s played soccer with me ever since we were five and he joined the Bays with me. He has pushed me at practice and in games to improve and succeed.”
Nigel’s mother was also born in the United States, though her parents were also Caribbean immigrants, having come over from Trinidad and Tobago. But for Nigel, there was only ever one choice: “I want to play for Saint Lucia,” he insists, “because of the good experiences I know I’ll have. I feel like playing for Saint Lucia will force me to adapt to a whole new playing style, which in turn will make me a better player. I also want this because my father has high expectations for me and my soccer career, and this could be a huge opportunity for me.”
Already in possession of his citizenship papers, Nigel says he thinks his “passing range, midfield work rate and ability to read the game” can add a lot to the island’s age group teams. “I get back on defense, and in the final third I can usually make the right choice,” says the Baltimore City College student, who is presently being scouted by NCAA Division 1 schools.
The youngster knows about the recent exploits of Saint Lucia’s age group teams, making the finals of the CONCACAF Under-17 tournament and the quarterfinals of the ongoing CFU under-15 competition.
He also knows that he could contend for a spot on the national team alongside Jacksonville based professional player, Chaim Roserie. Chaim, also 16, can play for Saint Lucia, where his father is from, but is also eligible to play for the USA, where he was born, Canada, where he was raised, or Guyana, where his mother is from.
Later this year, Nigel and the Bays will play the Disney Cup in Florida. But he is hoping that some time in 2016, he will be pulling on a Saint Lucia jersey.