Soccer star Blissett throws down gauntlet

By Stuart GarnerMay 19, 2009 – 12:09:06 PM

Luther Blissett will visit Grand Bahama once again for the annual Summer Soccer Camp on Grand Bahama Island. Photo: Robbin Whachell The best youth soccer players on Grand Bahama are going to get a top-level challenge at this year’s soccer camp: “You think you’re good – well, prove it”.
In a new departure at this extremely-popular event, the best players enrolled at the camp in the view of the visiting coaches will be offered the chance to take part in small master classes aimed at fast-tracking their skills, and in the process enhance the level of the game on the island.
The two groups – one for boys and the other for girls – will be strictly limited to five or six players, and they will receive the undivided attention of soccer legend Luther Blissett for the last three or four days of the week.
Although Luther has been at previous camps he has always divided his time equally between all age groups and skill levels. This year’s new venture has been made possible by the fact he will be accompanied at the camp by not just one but two full-time professional coaches, who spend their lives training young people in the UK and the US. “That will free Luther up for more specialized work, “said camp organiser Richard Malcolm.
Blissett, who was born in Jamaica but qualified to play for England, which he did 18 times, achieved legendary status thanks to his prolific goal scoring at the highest level of the English game. He also coached leading professional players for years before giving up to devote his time to helping develop a motor racing team of all Black drivers. He had already been a trail blazer for Black sport by scoring the first ever goal, and the first-ever hat-trick for England, by a man of colour.
“The real benefit for our best young players is that they will be getting close attention from a man who played at the very highest level, not just a couple of times but frequently. They may think they are good but they will be critiqued and developed by a man who was paid a lot of money for a lot of years passing on his skills and knowledge to top pros,” said Malcolm.
Luther Blissett as defenders remembered him – in black and white print days! “When I heard about this I loved the idea,” said Blissett. “It will be interesting to see how they take on board the work I give them.”
Blissett scored 217 goals in a 602-game career. Malcolm continued: “We have had some distinguished players helping our camps but this guy is undoubtedly the outstanding one. We have felt for a year or two we could use him rather better than we have so far and this year, thanks to having an extra visitor, we shall be able to.
“The real beneficiary will be the game here and not just the kids. The two youth soccer development programmes on the island have done a fantastic job but the number of competitive games available is strictly limited and so too is the quality of the opposition. Being exposed to the best just for a few days is bound to pay dividends for those youngsters prepared to listen, learn and work hard. They hopefully then will reflect a standard to which others can aspire.”
The camp, at Freeport Rugby Club from June 22 to June 26, is for six-to-16-year-olds but the master classes will be selected from those aged 14 and above, reflecting the role that size and physical strength can play in teen years. The classes will become a regular feature of future camps though and younger children will get their chance for selection as they graduate to older groups.
Registration is under way with forms available on this website (see top of home page) and from Town and Country in Yellow Pine Street or Animale, Port Lucaya Marketplace. They can be handed in, along with the attendance fee of $175, at those two venues and also at the rugby club this coming Saturday afternoon (May 23) from 3pm until 5pm while a veterans’ game against visitors from Atlanta is being played.