Lightbourne gets head start

  • Jomei Bean-Lindo is one of the new crop of young players looking to force their way into the Bermuda team.  “I like his style of play,” said coach Kyle Lightbuorne (Photograph by Lawrence Trott)
  • PHC pair Tre Ming, left, and Na’eem Griffith are very much in national coach Kyle Lightbourne’s plans for next season’s  Nations League.  However Ian Coke, centre, will miss the opening months of the new season after recent surgery on his knee. (Photograph by Lawrence Trott)

The Bermuda football team will resume training next week as they prepare for their opening match in the Concacaf Nations League away to Aruba in September.

The Gombey Warriors, who started training at the beginning of last month, took a break last week for the BFA coaching course and this week’s ID junior camp which involved coaches from England, but now will pick back up with regular sessions before the Nations League kicks off.

“We’ll be getting back together come Monday and have been training four times a week,” said coach Kyle Lightbourne, who has been encouraged by the turnout so far. “The attendance started off really well where we had over 40 guys training, they are excited about playing football — even before the World Cup started — and now we’ve got to get back following the interruptions.

“It’s always difficult during the summer time, with guys away for different reasons and unavailable, but overall we had a good nucleus of players come out. Now we have to kick in and start gearing up for our match on September 9.

“We were supposed to go on a ten-day training trip but at the last minute it got postponed, so we will probably look to do that prior to our trip to Aruba.

“The good thing is we’ve been able to have small matches against the under-20s who are preparing for their own tournament.

“We had some competitive games and have to step it up as it is an important time for us.”

Reggie Lambe, the Bermuda captain, trained with the squad while on a summer break before his move to Sky Bet League Two side Cambridge United.

Lambe, according to Lightbourne, is hoping to be available for the matches in September, October, November and next March while Nahki Wells has also expressed publicly his desire to be involved.

“I spoke to him [Wells] briefly and he said he is interested even more as it is during the international window,” Lightbourne revealed. “He’s hoping that he can give himself the best opportunity possible to make it into the [Burnley] starting team. This is a big year for him.”

Also at the sessions was striker Rai Simons, the former Chesterfield striker, who is still recovering from a foot injury.

“We have to handle him with care as he’s coming off a big Achilles injury,” Lightbourne said. “He’s still looking to do something [overseas], but first and foremost he needs to know that he can train day in and day out. Physio Craig Brown is trying his hardest to get him free of any sort of pain.”

One player who will not be available until the new year is striker Ian Coke of Dandy Town, the league’s MVP two seasons ago, who dislocated a knee in a league match against Young Men’s Social Club in early March. It was around the time that the Concacaf Nations League draw for qualifying matches was being made and just ahead of Bermuda’s friendly matches against Antigua and Barbuda and Barbados in March. Coke recently had surgery on the knee. “I spoke to Ian about five or six days ago and he gave me the impression he is trying to be ready for the second half of the season,” Lightbourne said.

There are some new faces in the training squad, youngsters like defenders Ashton Bell and Azende Furbert, of BAA and North Village respectively, and Tomei Bean-Lindo, the Devonshire Colts midfielder. Paul Simons, of X-Roads, has also answered the invitation to train with the squad.

The team has plenty of experience in central defence, where there is Dante Leverock, William White, Na’eem Griffith and Jaylon Bather. Lightbourne says he wants to continue with Lambe as captain and Tre Ming vice-captain.

“When Andrew [Bascome] was in charge we had Reggie and Tre the captain and vice and I’m happy to continue with those two, both show a lot of good leadership,” the coach said.

“Tre is always at training on time and shows a great example while Reggie does the same thing, always wanting to play for Bermuda. He doesn’t turn down the opportunity and that says a lot of him. He just moved clubs and is still prepared to put his country first.

“Most players want to be a part, there have been one or two who are on the outside looking in and showing interest in being involved which has been good,” Lightbourne said.

“We have some of the under-20s who really impressed us when we had West Ham and the Azores Under-19s here [Bermuda International Football Festival]. We have a good group of players to pick from and some of our players who are playing overseas have now gone back to school or their clubs. Hopefully that will put pressure on some of the guys who have been involved. No one has a guaranteed position.”

With the exception of Osagi Bascome, who has been playing cricket for St George’s, few players in the national set-up are dividing their time between the two sports, like Lightbourne himself did.

“I played for Bermuda in cricket and football and when it was not football season I was playing cricket,” he said. “Now football is more of a year-round sport, even cricket has turned into an all-year round sport.

“Sometimes the cricket team is travelling in January and February which is not our cricket season. We speak to the players about being ready at all times.”