A sports lesson for the nation
Published: May 11, 2013
The FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Qualifier in the CONCACAF region, going on at the national facility at the foot of the Sidney Poitier Bridge on East Bay Street is providing much more than competition excitement.
Interestingly enough, although without any initial focus, the qualifier is bringing to center stage a cultural enigma in this country. It is difficult to understand why the growing presence of residents, biologically connected to Haiti, evokes so much passion in this country among those who consider themselves indigenous Bahamians.
A reality check should have been done long ago. People of Haitian background are now etched in the very fabric of this nation. They are cemented in the base of this archipelago, actually from Grand Bahama and Abaco in the north, all the way down to Inagua in the deep southern Bahamas.
The time has arrived for all Bahamians to appreciate that the legal immigrants, however they got to be here and their offspring, for whatever reasons they came to be born here, are part and parcel of the legitimate Bahamian mix.
I looked down at the line up of Team Bahamas prior to the start of the game against Guatemala. Our National Anthem was being played. There was Lesley St. Fleur and Team Captain Nesly Jean lustily singing along as patriotically as any other on the squad. In the matches, they were out there with Gary Joseph, putting every ounce of strength in their bodies on the line to bring honor and glory to The Bahamas.
When Jean scored the nifty winner out of a goalmouth scramble, we were ecstatic. It was 4-3 Bahamas with a little over a minute to go and we were headed for history and an established presence in CONCACAF Beach Soccer.
The victory over Guatemala Thursday, combined with the 9-1 triumph over Puerto Rico in the first match, was a collective statement by The Bahamas. Whatever happened in the following game on Friday against the United States (played after this column was produced), The Bahamas had already sent a clear message to fellow CONCACAF nations.
Our beach soccer program is making waves.
This is the case largely because of players of strong Haitian background.
Note that against Puerto Rico, St. Fleur scored three of the nine goals. Joseph netted two and Jean got his first of the tournament. Against Guatemala, along with the clincher, Jean scored another. Take them out of the picture and you are eliminating their eight goals as well. The Bahamas scored 13 goals in the first two games.
I believe readers get the point.
It surely is a sports lesson for the nation.
St. Fleur is perhaps the best Bahamian soccer player since the days of the fierce striker Leroy ‘Uncle Lee’ Archer Sr. They are the two most ferocious Bahamian attackers I have ever seen. It was danger time always when Uncle Lee got on the ball.
The same is so for St. Fleur. Further, he has been our most noted soccer ambassador. He has played at a high level in Canada and Jamaica over the last three years and is well respected by peers.
The little dynamo is not named Rolle, Smith, Major, Moss, Jones, Sawyer, Albury, Sands, Bethel or Sturrup.
Let’s ask the question.
How did we come by those surnames? Those are heredity names we inherited from immigrants.
What is the beach soccer qualifier demonstrating?
The event is showing all and sundry that the St. Fleurs, the Jeans, the Josephs, the Pierres and those of the many other French-sounding surnames can carry the banner of The Bahamas just as ably as anyone else.
I had a chat with Deputy Prime Minister Philip Davis following the Bahamas-Guatemala match and he is very aware of the cultural significance being emphasized at the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup 2013 CONCACAF Qualifier.
Go Team Bahamas!
• To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at email@example.com.