St. John’s, Antigua – Three of the country’s under-20 footballers in Tavaughn “Peter Redz” Harriette of Parham FC, Avier “World Boss” Christian of Libert FC and Empire’s Dale “Monchy” Thomas will leave for Washington next month where they will play for the Vancouver Victory FC in the inaugural Evergreen Premier League (EPLWA) from April to July this year.
The Evergreen Premier League is an elite adult men’s soccer league for college and post-college age players from eight Clubs across the State of Washington.
The opportunity for the players to participate in the new league was made possible by former national and Empire player Lennie Quashie.
Quashie through his friendship with the Vancouver Victory FC Head Coach, Biniam Afenegus, spearheaded the move to have the young Antiguans ply their trade in the league.
Harriett, 19-years-old, led the ABFA’s Premier Division in scoring with 15 goals. The Parham striker said he cherishes the once in a lifetime opportunity.
“Growing up, I always wanted to play football abroad so it was really an opportunity I was dying for so I thought the season that past that I needed to perform really well to get this opportunity and I came out top goal-scorer and the opportunity came out right in front of me so I have to thank Quashie because this is really appreciated and I just hope I can go and do my best,” he said.
“This could help me to get more mature in terms of my playing and in terms of becoming a better person; you are going to be around a lot of strange people so that would help me to mature a bit but I am focused and ready to tackle any task ahead,” Harriette added.
Thomas, a midfielder, hopes that his exploits with the Vancouver Victory would open doors for other young players in Antigua.
“Not only is it an opportunity for me but as Quashie told us, it’s an opportunity for others as well because once we go up there and make it a success we will create more opportunities for others since it is a league that is going to be continued.
On a personal basis, I think it’s an opportunity for me to show my skills to the US and maybe from there we can land professional contracts and be successful,” he said.
Meanwhile Liberta’s Christian who played an attacking midfield role for his team in the ABFA’s First Division, is just happy to have been considered for the opportunity.
“It’s definitely a great opportunity for me and all the guys and we are trying to make full use of this opportunity and we will try our best because it is an opportunity to get into a USL team or even an MLS tryout,” Thomas said.
The biggest challenge, according to the organizers, is to now raise the funds necessary to cover airfare to/from the US for all three players while two of the players are without the relevant travel visas and would need to travel to/from Barbados in an effort to obtain the required “stamp of approval.”
The Vancouver FC will provide accommodations, meals and transportation for the players during their stay in the US.
The initiative has been endorsed by the ABFA and the parents, coaches and clubs of the players have all been very supportive and providing whatever assistance they can.