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Two of Saint Lucia’s talented young footballers are in England as of Monday, for a two-week end-of-summer adventure that could reap them big rewards down the road.
Two-time Junior Footballer of the Year, Nyrone Winter, and his Saint Lucia Under-17 and Under-20 teammate, Melvin Doxilly, are in the English Midlands to train with at least two professional clubs.
Winter, still just 17 years old, is a gifted attacker from La Ressource, Vieux Fort. His name is quite familiar to most followers of local football, whether from his exploits with Kein Knights, Vieux Fort Comprehensive, or the Vieux Fort South senior team.
Less well known, perhaps, Melvin turned 18 in January. Hailing from Caye Mange, Monchy, the young central defender known as Baby Boy plays his football with Northern United, Gros Islet, and previously Gros Islet Secondary.
The two budding stars, both fans of Manchester United, are set to join Preston North End this week for five days. Although PNE now toils in the Championship (the second tier of English football) the Lilywhites were the first team to win the FA Cup, way back in 1889.
A founding member of the Football League, PNE is considered one of the most-successful English football clubs of all time domestically, and many England legends have come through the doors at the Deepdale in the past 136 years.
Following their time at PNE, the boys will head east to Bradford City, where they will again be exposed to different training methodology and take the opportunity to showcase their skills and abilities to the Bantams’ coaches and scouting staff.
Currently lodged in League One, the third tier of English football, Bradford numbers amongst its greatest players ever the present Technical Director of the Saint Lucia Football Association, former St Kitts and Nevis international, Cyril ‘Ces’ Podd.
Podd played 574 matches for the Bantams, and 502 league fixtures, both club records, between 1970 and 1984. He says the move for Nyrone and Melvin is just a question of establishing a relationship, but it could turn into something substantial.
“The Under-20 team is going into the CFU competition in October, so this experience is really just about exposing these boys to a different level of preparation, a different way of doing things than they have been used to with their local clubs.
“But if they are able to impress the coaches over there, who knows, they could be invited to a formal trial, and perhaps even be offered contracts. It only takes getting your foot in the door, and these young men are as talented as anyone.”
Ces has long touted young Nyrone in particular, saying in 2014: “Nyrone is quiet but confident in his footballing ability, if Nyrone continues to develop at the rate he is progressing he has the potential to play football at a professional level.”
Whilst in England, the Saint Lucian duo also hopes to link with Joshua Solomon-Davies, who is on scholarship with Tranmere Rovers. In October, the three will reunite with the Saint Lucia national team for the Caribbean Football Union finals in Curacao.
Said Melvin: “I’m very happy for the opportunity God has given me; it’s a once in a life time opportunity. I will try my best to make good use of it. This means a lot to me, my family, and my country. I have always dreamed of playing professional football and I just want to do the best I can.”
The trip was facilited in part by the Department of Youth Development and Sports, with support from Leisure Travel. With doubts over the arrangements up to late last week, Ces indicates that a high level of collaboration was essential to pull it all off.
Nyrone will be back in England in a matter of weeks, as he is set to visit Manchester City along with another national teammate, Jervel Tobierre, for the final leg of the Digicel Kickstart development programme.