Qatar 2022 – US Virgin Islands

  • Close-up on football in the US Virgin Islands
  • The Covid-19 pandemic was seen there as a development opportunity
  • Interview with national coach Gilberto Damiano

While elsewhere there was partial paralysis due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the US Virgin Islands have taken their destiny in hand and made a virtue of necessity. “There are always two options. Either we wait and hope that things will improve. Or we roll up our sleeves and get down to work,” said coach Gilberto Damiano to “We started in March 2020 during the first lockdown. We got together and thought about what we could do. We came up with a three step plan. Each step will be completed in two years.”

Phase 1

  • “It consists of analyzing all areas in order to bring more professionalism, for example in terms of administration or social networks. To do this, we also observe other associations and try to adapt.”

Phase 2

  • Analysis of the first phase and planning of subsequent adjustments

Phase 3

  • “This is the full implementation and harvesting of the seeds we will have sown in the previous four years.”

On the right track

Globetrotter, Damiano is in command of the Dashing Eagle since 2019. “It’s one of the most fulfilling jobs I’ve ever had. I work in a place where everyone knows each other. The impact is huge. When you make decisions to improve things, people notice it immediately. This gratitude is priceless and it is often much more pleasant than working for a big club “, estimates the coach born in Brazil, emigrated to the United Kingdom in 2001, and who worked in England or Italy. “The beauty of football is the mixture of cultures. I played futsal in Brazil, I know the defensive mentality of Italians and also English football, which continues to evolve from year to year.”

The 44-year-old coach spends most of his time in London. Before the pandemic, he traveled to the Virgin Islands at least once a month, but almost everything is done by video for the moment. He gathers his team online up to six times a week to work on the players’ physical condition or their tactical understanding, not to mention the numerous meetings with local coaches. “I have learned a lot in the last few months. Our players are located in France, Australia, the United States, Antigua or the Virgin Islands. We also have more coaches on the pitch today and we we are on the right track, ”he assures us. “Someday someone else will take over and I hope they will be grateful to us for what we have accomplished.”

The United States Virgin Islands under the microscope

  • Three main islands: Sainte-Croix, Saint-John, Saint-Thomas
  • 50 smaller islands
  • Geographically, they are part of the Caribbean, east of Puerto Rico
  • About 110,000 inhabitants
  • 1987 – Foundation of the US Virgin Islands Soccer Federation (UVISF)
  • 1998 – FIFA membership
  • Confederation: CONCACAF

Weight support

Besides Damiano’s motivation, the small Caribbean country also benefits from the support of FIFA. “FIFA is the key to the success of football in the Virgin Islands. The support we receive is tremendous. It is the only way for us to bring about change,” said Damiano. “FIFA believes in the same things we do: putting people first and creating opportunities for them to develop. I am delighted to be a part of this adventure and to have FIFA by our side.”

Regardless of the enormous development work, Damiano and his team are about to begin qualifying for the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar ™. The CONCACAF zone’s first opponent will be Antigua and Barbuda on March 27. The other teams in Group A are El Salvador, Montserrat and Grenada.

“We have to approach all matches with the conviction that we can win. We want to compete because there are no easy groups in a qualifying phase for the World Cup. We have a good balance between young people and more experienced internationals. . Qualifying is a good test of what we are doing here, ”concludes Damiano.

Damiano about his team:

  • “JC Mack played in New Zealand and now plays in Australia. He’s a great forward who can make a difference on his own.”
  • “We can count on three quality goalkeepers: Lionel Brown, Carlos Quezada and Erik Mozzo. They are ready.”
  • “Our central defenders are modern defenders. They can defend, clear when necessary, but also practice a good passing game.”
  • “In attack we have, in addition to Mack, ambitious young players.”
  • “Overall, our team is flexible and can play in different formations, although it also depends on the opponent.”

Football on US Virgin Islands: Gilberto Damiano

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