Proud Vincies hail team despite heavy defeat

Despite Vincy Heat’s heavy trouncing recently by the United States in a World Cup qualifier in St. Louis, Mo, Vincentians in the United States are sticking with their national football (soccer) team, saying that the players have made them extremely proud in their special moment in history.

It was the first time that the national team, renowned as Vincy Heat, engaged the United States in any soccer battle.

The team lost 1-6, despite scoring first off Oalex Anderson’s boot in just the fifth minute.

That, in itself, is still a monumental achievement for the 150 square-mile nation, of just over 103, 000 people, said nationals, primarily from New York, who trekked by bus, for over 18 hours, to witness history at Busch Stadium in downtown St. Louis in America’s heartland.

The bus trip was organized by sports enthusiasts and community advocates Joanne Legair (Brooklyn), James Cordice (Philadelphia) and Kenley “Shortmus” John (Baltimore, Maryland).

“I was proud to represent all who couldn’t make it to the game,” said Hazleann U. Scrubb-Cooke, a recently retired teacher at the Barrouallie Secondary School (BSS), who was among die-hard fans and nationals on a bus from New York, in a Caribbean Life interview.

Scrubb-Cooke, who now resides in Brooklyn, said she was “proud” to disclose that she had taught about seven the Vincy Heat players at BSS, including goal scorer Anderson, her hometown boy.

“I had goose bumps all over,” she said, as bus riders, including nationals from Washington, D.C., Maryland and Pennsylvania, journeyed back to the Northeastern United States Saturday morning.

“When asked by Americans about my country, I proudly gave them a description of our paradise isle,” added Scrubb-Cooke. “After the game, I hugged my boys, and we cried together. All odds were against us – support, financial and otherwise, climate, etc.; but, in my mind, we won.

“Our youths have put St. Vincent and the Grenadines on the map,” she continued. “I know there are better things to come. God bless our youths, and God bless St. Vincent and the Grenadines!”

Noel Cyrus – the younger brother of the “ABC of Calypso,” Alston “Becket” Cyrus – brought along his wife, Casynella, née Ollivierre, and their young son, to be part of history.

“Great experience to travel on a bus with my countrymen from St. Vincent and the Grenadines!” said Cyrus, a high school track and field coach in Washington, D.C. “It was so awesome to support our team on this big stage.

“We won everything, even though we lost the game,” he added. “Go St. Vincent and the Grenadines! I will do it again!”

Mrs. Cyrus, Miss St. Vincent and the Grenadines 2005 in Vincy Mas, who hails from Mayreau in the Southern Grenadines, said Vincy Heat represented the nation “to the best of their potential, and we’re very proud of the efforts they put forward.

“We were up against world class veterans and were able to score first,” said the teacher at Ludlow, Taylor Elementary School, Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C. “We held our heads high and our national flags higher.

“It’s now because of our tremendous efforts that people all around the world are now googling the name ‘St. Vincent and the Grenadines,’” she added. “Long live SVG!”

Lawyer Lennox Simon, president of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Nationals Association of Washington, D.C. (SVGNA-DC), said he was “excited” to lead a team of six nationals from the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area to “witness history.”

Albie Crick, a former secondary school teacher in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, said Vincy Heat is “making SVG proud in the soccer world.

“I would have liked to see a win but better luck next time,” said Crick, an executive member of SVGNA-DC.

Lorenzo DeCaul, the president of the Philadelphia-based St. Vincent and the Grenadines Organization of Pennsylvania (SVGOP), also told Caribbean Life that it was “a very proud occasion” for him.

“I hope I get the opportunity in the future to witness similar moments,” he said. “This has been a humbling experience for me.”

Cordice, a former SVGOP president and architect behind St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ participation in the annual Penn Relays at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, said he was “blessed to be part of the historic journey to Missouri.

“I salute our bus excursion committee, and I applaud our young soccer team braving this storm,” he said. “I will continue to support sports in SVG. It’s a great window to a world of opportunity for our country.”

Later on the bus, Cordice told celebrating riders that it was a “wonderful experience” for Vincy Heat, noting that it was “something that never happened before.”

John said the trip to Missouri has “re-energized me,” as he appealed to riders to make donations to Vincy Heat players, who reportedly are not paid to represent the nation.

He also said there was need to “build bridges” across the nation.

“If it’s going to take these kids (soccer players) to change it, let’s embrace it,” said the Sion Hill, Kingstown native.

Greg Dublin, president of the newly-formed, Brooklyn-based South Rivers Organization of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, thanked the bus organizers for making it possible to travel to St. Louis.

“What we see demonstrated here is a model for what should be on a broad scale,” he said.

Donna Lewis, vice president of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Garifuna Organization of New York, said national pride and unity were exhibited on the way to, during, and from St. Louis.

“Coming from above the [Rabacca] Dry River [in St. Vincent and the Grenadines], I felt so proud,” she said. “For them [Vincy Heat] to leave our soil and play to score the first goal, we should be proud of that. I’m in tears; I love my country.”

Brooklyn residents and Kingstown natives Annice Bess-Culzac and Yvette Deshong-Laborde said they, too, were very proud of the team’s performance.

“I am feeling so happy just knowing that my little country came and played the USA,” Deshong-Laborde said. “For me, that is big history. I am very proud.”

“I was very proud to see Vincy Heat score in the first five minutes,” intoned Bess-Culzac. “I was really proud that St. Vincent and the Grenadines was on the map.”

Legair, the principal bus organizer, said “despite the loss, I felt so proud.

“I think we accomplished the mission,” said the Brooklyn resident. “We were at a disadvantage to begin with, but we’re still very proud of team.

“Our tourism [officials] missed an opportunity to be out there [in St. Louis] with a booth,” she, however, added. “I think they missed a real, real opportunity [to further promote the nation].”

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