If there has been a name synonymous with football in Antigua and Barbuda over the last decade it is Peter “Big Pete” Byers.

The big striker has been very well celebrated since a youngster attending Bolans primary school at 10 years of age.

He remembers being called up for national duty in the Under-13 category and after three weeks in training he was moved from his role as a striker and asked to take up goal keeping duties.

He said it wasn’t that he wasn’t striking well but that there were many capable others while there was a lot left to be desired in the area of goal keeping. In fact, Byers did so well between the uprights that he found himself goal keeping for the next four years. This was his national role but he was still scoring heavily in local school tournaments.

He won the most goals award three times as an Under-14 player and the same amount of times as an Under-16 player. When he moved on to the St. Mary’s School of Excellence he won the league’s Most Goals Award and a championship trophy. He repeated the feat when he moved to the Youth Skills Training Programme.

By his 18th year he was playing for SAP FC and started between the uprights. He gave this up the following season and struck goal 15 times on his way to the top marksman award. He improved on his tally the next year with 18 goals and again in the top spot.

Since then he has continued to impress playing for Jablotech in Trinidad, Montreal Impact in Canada and the Loas Angeles Blues in the United States. Locally he has played for Parham FC but is now back with his home team SAP.

His achievements are many but Byers believes he has a lot more to give and at present his focus is to work along with the rest of the Benna Boys to carry Antigua and Barbuda to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

“I am here to train extra hard. I am part of a tem which has a job to win for this country so we are expecting maximum fan support. It is always a joy representing Antigua and Barbuda and I am guaranteeing we (Benna Boys) will be giving 100 per cent to get to the World Cup,” he said.

“We will be going against a lot of big names but at the end of the day each side will have eleven players on the field. Names do not win games,” he said.

Byers gives credit for his continued development to his mother Rosemarie Thomas and father Peter Byers. He had special praise for his grandmother Emeda Joseph who he would go to in order to get what he wanted when his mother and father couldn’t or wouldn’t deliver.

His football heroes are all local boys including Derrick “Pretty Boy” Edwards .

“I always wanted to be like him,” Byers said. “I like to wear the #16 Jersey in honour of Winston “Sprockett” Roberts. I was impressed with his speed and his ability to finish well. There was also Conrad “Boast” Whyte who was an excellent finisher,” said Byers.

Timothy Payne
News Pages Antigua