LAS VEGAS, Nevada --- Bermuda’s football has never seen better days, at least not in recent times.
The British island territory, located in the North Atlantic Ocean, has achieved twin goals of qualifying for Concacaf’s Nations League A, and historically a spot in the confederation’s marquee tournament, the Gold Cup.
In a true testament of the power of the new Nation’s League to inspire and create dreams, Bermuda finished the one-off qualifying tournament in fifth spot, underlined by nine points and a plus-13 goal difference.
In Wednesday night’s draw event at the Cosmopolitan Hotel, which sub-divided the three leagues into groups, Bermuda was drawn in Group B of the elite League A.
The draw outcome pits them with Concacaf giant Mexico and the highly-competitive Panama. Even so, Bermuda coach Mark Wade is unfazed.
“To be the best, you have to beat the best… the players are excited and buzzing in getting to it, and they want to challenge themselves against the best in the region,” Mar Wade (on the picture) told concacaf.com.
Wade, a coach by trade and a new president of the Bermuda Football Association, shared that the magic of the team’s recent successes still feels like a fairytale. But as he tells it, it was the result of planning, industry and unwavering commitment by all stakeholders.
“It has just started to soak in what we actually accomplished here and I am very excited, and so is everybody back home”
“But this is a testament to all the work that we have done in terms of the development of players, so I want to say that this did not happen overnight,” Wade reminded.
He added that the Nations League competition platform is the tonic Concacaf needed to drive development of the game in its sub-sets, particularly in the perceived weaker regions, most notably the Caribbean.
“I was committed to it (Concacaf Nations League) from I first heard about it as I could see the benefits right away for Bermuda, and other small countries having regular competitive matches, and I could also see the benefits of not only growing technically and tactically, but from a commercial standpoint as well as we could now begin to market our program,” Wade reasoned.
Meanwhile, Concacaf Director of Development Jason Roberts, who participated in Wednesday night’s draw, noted that the rise of teams like Bermuda speaks eloquently to the vision and purpose of the new competition structure, which involves all 41 member associations of Concacaf.
“I think we have seen so many stories and so many fantastic games. We have been pleased, not only with the uptake of people’s understanding of what the competition is, but their commitment in developing good footballing programs,” he noted.
“I am very excited about the league as I can remember a year ago when we first launched it there were questions about the roll out, the qualification phase, and now this phase, the Nations League proper.
“I thought at the time it was an important intervention that ensured that we had consistent competition… I believe that football drives development and I think we would have taken a massive step in providing a platform for all our member associations, and now it’s good to see the conversation shifting, as now when we talk about the Nations League it’s strictly about football,” said the former Grenada international.