S.L. Horsfords St. Pauls defender Petrez Williams has been selected to play with the Major League Soccer (MLS) Portland Timbers FC Academy. Williams will be part of a residency program with the club, which is a full time, fully funded, player development program, one of only a small number in North America. The program is designed to maximize a player’s potential on and off the field through a “soccer lifestyle” philosophy linking soccer and personal developments.
At a press conference at Football House on Friday August 24, 2018 in the presence of Williams’ parents and Manager of the St. Pauls F.C., President of the St. Kitts and Nevis Football Association (SKNFA) Anthony Johnson, lauded Williams on this major accomplishment. “There are no rich footballers in St. Kitts and Nevis. All of them come from poor backgrounds. It is important for us to get more players in the professional circuit…that for us is life changing,” Johnson said. “I want to thank all of the persons who have been involved in this effort so far and I want to say to Petrez, take the opportunity with both hands and go out there and represent you and your family to the best of your ability,” the SKNFA President added. Mr. Johnson also thanked SKNFA staffers, particularly Diane Brown, Club Licensing Officer, for her efforts in assisting Petrez in finalizing his arrangements for his trip to Portland.
General Secretary of the SKNFA Stanley Jacobs said the role of the Association is to get the players exposed so they can receive the opportunities similar to what Williams has achieved. He praised Petrez for his attitude, which is important in his quest for success. “In one conversation I had with a gentleman from Portland Timbers, he said to me ‘he loves Petrez. He is a wonderful young man.’ He didn’t speak about his football, he didn’t say he is skillful, he said he is a wonderful young man,” Jacobs said. “That is the message that must be sent to our young men…you must have the right attitude to be successful,” he added.
Petrez Williams was almost a loss for words in being given this glorious opportunity, but expressed gratitude to all those who had a hand in his development as a footballer. “I would like to say thanks for everyone who has been a part of this. I want to shout out the St. Pauls FC Community, family, friends, coaches in the past; Thanks very much. I will make everyone proud,” he said.
His parent were just as overjoyed. Williams’ father Theophilus Williams said he is proud of his son’s accomplishment. “I am thankful for the club and the community and everybody who had a hand in it. My wife and I are very proud of what he has achieved…I will always be happy. He will make the island very proud,” Mr. Williams said.
Williams’ mother, Stephanie Williams said Petrez had an interest in football from a very young age. “When he was small, as soon as he came home from school he would go to play football,” she said with a smile and to chuckles from the press audience. “Although he used to (play football) he still did well in his CXC exams,” she added.
Meanwhile, Manager of the St. Pauls F.C. Derionne Edmeade, said Williams’ selection with the Portland Timbers is a win for all the clubs and for the SKNFA. “This is not just a win for the St. Pauls Football Club but it is a win for the SKNFA and all the clubs,” Edmeade said. “Many would have said there is not much for football in St. Kitts but today we are here sending off a player from the St. Pauls community (to the MLS),” he added.
He encouraged Williams not to look to return to St. Kitts to play for St. Pauls, but to strive higher into the realm of professional football. “We want to hear and see good things from you…from a small Caribbean island of St. Kitts and Nevis we expect you to go out and make a name not for St. Pauls, but for St. Kitts and Nevis. This is not about St. Pauls Football Club anymore. This is bigger than St. Pauls,” Mr. Edmeade added.
Williams’ participation in the residency program with the Portland Timbers will run until June 24, 2019 at the Adidas Timbers Training Center in Beaverton, Oregon. Portland Timbers is one of the major clubs in the MLS league of the United States.