ST. JOHN’S, Antigua (October 18, 2015) – He’s a standout in the crowd. Whether he’s holding the loud hailer and providing running commentary on all the games or marshaling his four teams in the Cool and Smooth Skillball League, it’s immediately obvious that the 15 year old is a natural leader. And his teams – in fact, everyone in the arena – respect him.
Rastama Richmond is the coach and manager of Ghetto All Stars, which is contesting the U9, U11, U13 and U16 divisions of the competition.
He came under the notice of Generation Next FC’s CEO Richard “Ricky” Santos last December, when the club staged a weekend skillball tournament on the Gray’s Farm basketball court, not just because his teams dominated the event, but for how he handled things, from his squads to assisting in venue coordination, like a boss.
He was invited to the next competition at the Ovals court a month later, and is now in the league underway, with more than 25 players under his charge.
“Last year, I was asked to put together some players, and I’ve been doing it since,” said Richmond, who credited GNFC U7 coach Shakimba “YaYa” Williams for making the right connections, with GNFC and the players.
His responsibilities for the league underway extend beyond the Volleyball Arena at YMCA, Richmond indicated.
“I asked YaYa to take me to the parents, and I went and talked to them and they told me things like make sure they get home safe,” said Richmond, who’s at home in the midfield or as part of the strike force when he’s not in charge.
His peers listen to him, and he has a method to keep anyone from falling out of line. “I tell them I won’t give them any game, and I also tell their mothers what’s going on. The guys trust me; the moms trust me; and I have YaYa,” Richmond said.
He was sitting in the stands for the interview as another youth-led team was playing a losing match. That team was, on the night, outplayed and increasingly at odds with each other. Richmond called out advice to them from the stands, which went unheeded. “See,” he said. “They are cursing each other; you can’t win no ball that way. When we’re losing we still play.”
That said, asked the best part, he grinned broadly and said, “winning.”
Meanwhile, on the court of play, Villa Lions (U16), New Generation FC (U13 and U11) and Generation Next FC (U9 and U7) top the standings.
The U16 Lions with seven wins and a draw are on 22 points, one more than second-placed Big Dan Click FC.
New Generation’s U13 have five wins, three draws and 18 points. The Lions, with five wins, two draws and one loss, are in striking range with 17 points.
one more than second-placed Big Dan Click FC. with 22 points from seven wins and one draw, are a comfortable distance from runners-up GNFC who are on 16.In U9 action, GNFC have four wins, one draw and 13 points, one ahead of Ghetto All Stars, who have four wins and one loss.
GNFC FC 1 and GNFC A are tied on 15 points in U7, but FC 1 enjoy a better goal differential.
The league, which is endorsed by the Antigua and Barbuda Football Association (ABFA), is sponsored by Cool and Smooth, Antigua Masonry Products, Skinique Rejuvenation and Weight Loss Center and benefactor The Maria Holder Memorial Trust Fund.It will run until November 7.
U16 games are played on Fridays, starting at 4 pm, while the other divisions are contested on Saturdays, beginning at 9 am and running until 8:30 pm.
Participating teams are Big Dan Click FC; Five Islands; GNFC A and GNFC 1; Ghetto All Stars; New Generation FC; Trinity FC; Tamo FC; Unruly Boss FC; Villa Lions FC; Willikies FC; and Young Warriors FC.