July 24, 2021

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FIFA World Cup 2022 – News – Damiano looking to leave a legacy on the US Virgin Islands

5 min read
FIFA World Cup 2022™ - News - Damiano looking to leave a legacy on the US Virgin Islands
  • We take a look at soccer in the US Virgin Islands
  • COVID-19 pandemic is being seized as a possibility
  • National coach Gilberto Damiano explains extra

The COVID-19 pandemic has been wreaking havoc globally for over a yr now, and sport has actually not been spared by the virus. Most stadiums nonetheless stay empty or are simply partially stuffed, with tournaments and qualifiers both postponed or cancelled altogether.

While most locations floor to a halt, the US Virgin Islands took their soccer destiny into their very own fingers and made a advantage out of necessity. “There are always two ways of looking at things. Either you wait it out and hope that things somehow improve, or you roll up your sleeves and do something about it,” stated the nation’s nationwide crew coach Gilberto Damiano to FIFA.com.

“We began things back in March 2020 when we had to go into lockdown. We sat down together and worked out what we could do, and came up with a three-part plan, each stage lasting two years.”

Phase 1

  • “This involves analysing every area to become more professional, including administration and social media. We are looking at other national associations and trying to adapt things.”

Phase 2

  • Analysis of the first part and planning additional diversifications.

Phase 3

  • “This is about full-scale implementation and reaping the harvest that we sowed in the previous four years.”

“This job for me is one of the most fulfilling things I’ve ever done in my life,” says Damiano, a veritable globetrotter who took over the reins of the Dashing Eagles in 2019. “I’m working in a place where everyone knows one another, and the effect of that is enormous. When you actually put something in place that makes things better, people notice it straight away. You can’t put a price on the gratitude and often it’s a lot nicer than working in a big club somewhere in another part of the world.”

Damiano was born in Brazil, then emigrated to the UK in 2001, working with a variety of groups after that, as a coach with Cardiff City and likewise in Italy. “The great thing about soccer is its mixture of cultures. I’ve futsal roots from my time in Brazil, I respect the Italian mentality when it comes to defending and English soccer, which appears to be coming on yearly,” he says.

The 44-yr-previous now spends most of his time in London, and prior to the pandemic, he went to the US Virgin Islands at the very least as soon as a month. These days, virtually all communication is through video. He makes a web-based name to his crew at the very least six instances a week to work on the gamers’ health and tactical understanding, as well as to all kinds of conferences with the native coaches. “I’ve learnt so much over the past months,” he explains. “Our gamers are primarily based in France, Australia, USA, Antigua and the US Virgin Islands. We now have extra coaches on website and we’re on the proper observe.”

Damiano intends to leave behind a legacy for the US Virgin Islands. “At some point, someone else will be sitting here at my desk and will hopefully be grateful for what we’ve achieved,” he says. “It’s all about the people. I love it. Football is not the most popular sport on the US Virgin Islands, so the main thing that we’re trying to do is to reach young people and get them interested – they can achieve something with us not just as players but as coaches or volunteers. The sky’s the limit.”

US Virgin Islands in short

  • Three essential islands: Saint Croix, Saint John and Saint Thomas
  • 50 or so different smaller islands
  • Located in the Caribbean, east of Puerto Rico
  • Population: c. 110,000
  • US Virgin Islands Soccer Federation (USVISF) based in 1987
  • Joined FIFA in 1998
  • Confederation: CONCACAF

Things might not be straightforward for this tiny Caribbean nation, however they’re making the better of issues, specifically thanks to assist from FIFA.

“FIFA is the key to football’s success on the US Virgin Islands,” the coach says. “The support that we have received from FIFA is amazing. It’s the only way that we can drive change here. FIFA believes in the same things as we do – put people first and give them opportunities to let them grow. Football is the best way of doing that. I am really grateful to be part of the process and to have FIFA alongside us.”

As properly as the huge quantities of growth work, play will lastly be getting underneath means at the finish of March in qualifying for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™. The nation’s first opponents in Concacaf Group A can be Antigua and Barbuda, whom they face on 27 March. El Salvador, Montserrat and Grenada make up the remainder of the group.

“We need to establish what our goals are,” Damiano explains. “We need to go into each match with the perception that we are able to win. We need to go toe-to-toe with the opposition. There aren’t any straightforward teams when it comes to qualifying for a World Cup. Everyone desires to win as a result of every particular person is representing their dwelling nation. We have a good mixture of younger and skilled gamers. Qualifying can be a good check relating to what we’re doing right here. We’re looking ahead to what lies forward.”

Damiano on his squad of gamers:

  • “J.C. Mack has played in New Zealand and is now in Australia. He’s a great attacker who can win a game for you all on his own.”
  • “We have three goalkeepers in Lionel Brown, Carlos Quezada and Erik Mozzo who are all ready to represent their country.”
  • “Our centre-backs are much along the lines of modern defenders. They can defend and clear the ball where necessary, but they can also string some good passes together.”
  • “Up front we have Mack along with a bunch of young and hungry players.”
  • “Overall, we have a very flexible team that can play in different formations, depending on who we’re up against.”
Football on US Virgin Islands: Gilberto Damiano

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