Faith in self, belief in a higher power and the support of a nation were listed, Tuesday night, among the key ingredients the Benna Boys will need to realize success in the second round of the semifinals of 2014 World Cup qualifiers.
The mantra was repeated in various iterations by all of the speakers at the Antigua & Barbuda Football Association’s launch of The Road to Rio campaign at Sugar Ridge Resort.
Antigua & Barbuda will seek to advance from a group that also comprises Guatemala, Jamaica and the United States.
Surprise guest Nation of Islam Leader Louis Farrakhan told the Benna Boys their approach to the task will matter more than the size of the nation or their rookie status.
“You may be small but so is the atom, and when you crack the atom, it releases power,” Minister Farrakhan said.
“What is your attitude, Benna Boys, as you come up against the giant?” the Nation of Islam leader asked, referring to the June 8 opener against the United States.
Referencing scripture, Minister Farrakhan told the team, “You must have the attitude David had when he met Goliath – ‘ain’t nothing too big for me to conquer.” He went into battle in the name of the Lord, and he came out victorious.”
Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer meanwhile expressed confidence that the team “can demonstrate to the world that we have the ability to achieve in this assignment.”
The Prime Minster issued a “call to action” for everyone to support the mission.
“I regard it as a mission because, as you know, football at that level dominates the world and to the extent that Antigua & Barbuda, a tiny spot in the Caribbean Sea, can take on countries of the likes of the United States speaks volumes to the tenacity and wherewithal that we have in this tiny island of ours,” PM Spencer said.
The Prime Minister pledged government’s financial and moral support, and he called on corporate Antigua & Barbuda, all citizens and residents to unite behind the team. Spencer said this will be necessary to afford the players the correct “state of mind” to concentrate on game plans rather than on bread-and-butter issues “that will affect their ability to deliver.”
“This is an important assignment for us,” PM Spencer said, indicating that the campaign is a national one that would positively impact Antigua & Barbuda and not just football alone.
The launch also featured remarks from President of the ABFA Everton “Batow” Gonsalves and MP Asot Michael, on behalf of Leader of the Opposition Lester Bird.
Kutting Edge set the mood with ambient music as guests walked the green carpet and entered the arena through a goalpost.
Antigua Dance Academy and Vitus offered cultural colour, while local music icon Clarence “Oungku” Edwards unveiled the theme song he created.
Video clips bridging the past with the present and symbolically passing the torch from the trailblazers to Generation Now were also a highlight.