Sports are often seen as a diversion to get people’s minds off their worries, and sports rivalries are likened to the dissections among combatants. But, there is also a distinctiveness that bears out from sports – the creation of admirable ‘oneness’ in pursuits by opponents.
This Saturday, sports’ unique side will be evident when a N.Y. Caribbean All-Stars team uses that platform to help combat a major health worry. The select squad of ballweavers will represent the region in a specially arranged Breast Cancer Awareness charity soccer game against American club, FC New York.
The Caribbean side, comprising players who ply their craft in the U.S., was invited by the USL-Pro club for the auspicious game at the Metropolitan Oval in Queens on Oct. 29 (from 8:00 p.m.) – the tail end of Breast Cancer Awareness month, which this year marks 25 years of awareness, education and empowerment in the U.S.
Players are from eight nations and most of them have had national caps and semi-pro exposure back in the Caribbean. “These players are also from some top teams in the Digicel Caribbean Cup (N.Y. Championships) here, so we’re guaranteed a roster to represent the Caribbean well,” team manager Shomari Ramsay added assuredly, last week.
While their countrymen seek honors in the current CONCACAF World Cup 2014 qualifiers, this fused NY-based side intends making the entire Caribbean proud. Last Saturday during practice at Brooklyn’s Old Boys H.S. stadium, coach Leeben McGregor lauded his diverse troop, saying that “while winning is their aim, it’s important to put on a good show to show that the issue of breast cancer is of concern to all of us in Caribbean communities, as well.”
It will be a first for a regional side in such an affair, which is expected to take on the look of a gala soccer festival. The event joins a slew of amateur and pro level sports events around the U.S. that are offering support to the national awareness and related activities.
According to the FC New York front office, a portion of the proceeds will be donated towards breast cancer awareness. Both teams are also coating their appearances with other special features to give more credence to their support for awareness of the malignancy. These include the wearing of pink jerseys by the hosts.
For Ramsay, a qualified soccer executive who directs the Central Brooklyn Soccer consortium and the allied soccer school, Champs Academy, the game also showcases Caribbean players who desire to play professionally. “It might not be in England, it might not be in Spain, but this is an opportunity for them to strive to get where they want to go, and I’m simply happy over that.”
He expects the team’s showing to be a tongue-wagger and players become hot-tickets for clubs looking for new and exciting talent. “Players are excited to go out on this stage, simply because it represents a chance for their talents to be widely seen and, then again, for their involvement such a worthwhile event,” Ramsay said, adding that a final 16-man roster will be picked for gameday. “It’s going to be hard, but we trying to strike a balance where representation is concerned.”
Ramsay, an American with Trinidadian roots, tags with Brooklyn-based college soccer director Stan Harmon and Guyana Football Federation’s International Coordinator Garth Nelson to manage the All-Stars’ involvement in the event. Nelson had developed a bond with FC New York’s president Doug Petersen that was further cemented in June when they arranged for a few Caribbean players to have short attachments with the club.
“It shows that Caribbean players are certainly valued in terms of their talent. This is good for those coming forward because now it’s essential for us and other stakeholders in our community to ensure they’re definitely given a chance to be looked at.”
McGregor echoed Nelson’s glee over the players “using their talents toward such a worthy cause.” He indicated that some of the players “have had direct or indirect connections with patients of breast cancer either home or here, and they’re happy to have leverage to awareness efforts.”
The match is also a precursor to a planned tour of games to Guyana and Trinidad by the American club in February 2012. “This visit was brokered in keeping with FC New York’s drive to be truly representative of the Big Apple’s demographics, where the Caribbean and its players can be integral to the club,” Nelson concluded.