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Opportunity for local footballers in Federation-hosted MLS Combine

SKNFA President Anthony Johnson

Basseterre, St. Kitts, 7th December 2015 – The St. Kitts and Nevis Football Association (SKNFA) has announced that the federation will be hosting a Major League Soccer (MLS) Combine during the 14th to 16th December.

The MLS Combine enables coaches, executives, scouts and managers to test players in various football disciplines under standardized conditions. In 2013 the MLS and the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) came to an agreement to enable the member CFU countries to nominate players. The Caribbean MLS Combine provides the forum for the vetting of these nominees.

SKNFA President Anthony Johnson spoke of the significance of the MLS to the local players. He said, “It is an excellent opportunity for our players to get the opportunity to try-out for professional contracts in the MLS. That, for us, is extremely important because at the St. Kitts-Nevis Football Association, our emphasis is upon ensuring that our players get, not only exposure but get opportunities to enhance themselves as players, whether it is through professional contracts or through university scholarships. So, for us it is another opportunity in that regard.”

Other important opportunities, Johnson said, come in the form of being able to develop stronger relationships with executives and coaches of the MLS. Johnson stated, “We believe that hosting this MLS Combine during the period 13 to 16 of this month will further enhance our ability to get players into the MLS and to develop a good working relationship with the MLS in general.”

This is the third year that the MLS, in conjunction with the CFU, has been hosting an MLS Combine in the Caribbean. In the previous two years, one Combine was held in the Caribbean. The first one was held in Antigua, and the second one was held in Puerto Rico. This year, instead of doing one Combine in the Caribbean, the MLS will conduct three Combines in the CFU region.

The SKNFA president explains how St. Kitts and Nevis got involved. Johnson explained, “We were offered the opportunity by CFU to host. I believe that they recognize not only the quality of play here in St. Kitts and Nevis, but also it being a strategic destination, in terms of getting to and from St. Kitts and Nevis. I believe also the fact that over the years, we have organized, very successfully, major tournaments, both at CFU and FIFA levels, and so, I believe those were the factors they would have taken into account.”

He continued, “Once we were offered the opportunity, we grabbed it with both hands. In fact, we will be the first of the three countries to be hosting.”

Beyond that, President Johnson said the Combine is timely in another respect involving more exposure for players. He said “It is also timely because over the upcoming weekend, we will be hosting our Sugar Mas Cup between the top four teams to emerge from the first round of the Premier League.”

The Sugar Mas Cup will be held Saturday and Sunday nights, 12th and 13th December. By this time, MLS executives, coaches and scouts, together with the other participating players, will be in St. Kitts and Nevis and be able to witness the finals of the Sugar Mas Cup.

According to President Johnson, “In addition to the actual hosting of the Combine, which will take place, in terms of the actual playing days, over the 14th and 15th, we believe that the finals of the Sugar Mas Cup will provide an added opportunity for players to be exposed, and hopefully, out of that, we will see players getting further opportunities.”

SKNFA General Secretary Stanley Jacobs points out that hosting the MLS “is yet another example of the SKNFA objective to provide opportunities for all, as it comes on the heals of 5 young players: Malik Liburd, G’vaune Amory, Tahir Hanley, Yohannes Mitchum, and Yusof Saunders, who traveled to San Antonio, Texas, for the Copa Rayados Under 19 Tournament”. Jacobs revealed, also, the participation of Tahir Hanley and Yohannes Mitchum in a two-month training camp at Santos FC in Brazil.

Meanwhile, Jacobs extends and invitation to the general public to “come out and witness the MLS Combine”.

The St. Kitts and Nevis players selected for the MLS Combine are Keithroy Freeman, Aljah Newton, Clyde Mitchum, Carlos Bertie, Javiem Blanchette and Raheem Francis.

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