On Saturday afternoon, the “golden oldies”, as they say in the rugby world, were back on the Freeport Rugby & Football Club (FRFC) pitch for a game with the GITS from Toronto.
Past players were thrilled to welcome a second visiting team to Grand Bahama for a weekend of revelry and fun, which ended with a hard-won game.
The team was also cheered on by the prime minister’s wife, Ann Marie Davis, who was visiting the island for the weekend and made a quick stop at the club to welcome the visiting players.
The Toronto team of 18 had a difficult time arriving on the island, due to Fort Lauderdale weather issues, but managed to get rerouted in time to stay at Viva Fortuna and enjoy a few days in Freeport supporting the game and enjoying the island.
Nigel Kirkby, coach and FRFC’s team captain, was excited to be back out on the pitch.
“We want to thank the team for coming down, for being generous tourists and for a sportsman-like game, which is the ethos of golden oldies rugby,” Kirkby said.
Source: Nassau Guardian
One of Grand Bahama’s oldest sporting clubs, Freeport Rugby Football Club (FRFC), is now back in action after a low profile due to hurricanes and the pandemic.
Club President Rob Speller is excited about the new season fixtures and in a recent interview with Grand Bahama News,said, “Freeport has a young aggressive team and will be challenging our old rivals, the Nassau Buccaneers, and other teams, for the Bahamas Rugby Cup with the first match to be held here in March.”
Formed in 1965 by the late Chris Cafferata, school teacher John Lively and others, the club property was a popular venue for various sporting and social events and used to host an annual Easter Festival Rugby Tournament with visiting clubs from all over the world. In the late 1970’s, members of the New York Cosmos soccer team were frequent visitors with world-famous payers like Chinaglia, Alberto and Beckenbauer holding their off-season training camps at the club and playing friendly matches against Freeport on a couple of occasions in 1979.
Donnie Knowles is one former sportsman with vivid memories of those times.
“I was the Freeport goalie and I managed to save a few but I will never forget Franz Beckenbauer slamming a ball into the back of the net, just missing taking my head off,” he said.
“I think we lost 12-0 that time.”
Even Pelé, recognized as the world’s greatest soccer player, was supposed to come to Freeport but was called back to represent his home team Santos.
The Youth International Rugby Festival was formed 13 years ago, catering to junior players and consisting of teams from Freeport, Nassau, the Cayman Islands, Bermuda and the USA. Over the years, hundreds of youngsters from all of the named countries battled it out on the field and made lifelong friends during the after-match celebrations.
FRFC celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2015 with a special party and banquet on the field and many of the former members flew in from all over the world to the event.
Hurricane Matthew tore the roof off the clubhouse and blew the storage shed over the fence into the YMCA in 2016, then the whole field and club apartment was flooded by Hurricane Dorian in 2019. During the cleanup after Dorian, the club was used as the base of operations for the Rubicon Disaster Relief Team, a nonprofit US-based organization whose volunteers are all US military veterans, to assist in the rip-outs and build back of all the flooded residential houses in Freeport.
Then came the virtual shutdown of just about everything when COVID arrived six months later.
Despite the recent difficulties, the club still managed to keep up a training schedule for its players. Five members, Justin Lewis, Treyvon Henfield, Spencer Graham, Marcus Gouthro and Michael Watkins were selected from Freeport to play for The Bahamas National 7’s team at the Rugby American North Tournament in Mexico City last November.
Grand Bahama Rugby Coach, Nigel Kirkby, traveled with them and said, “Despite the fact that they haven’t been able to play against other teams for so long, the lads did really well and I was proud of their aggressive and sporting spirit.”
In December, the Miami Tridents Rugby Team, who is presently celebrating its 50th anniversary season, came over on the recently introduced Margaritaville At Sea cruise ship for a friendly match, which was combined with a celebration cocktail party designed to attract new Freeport rugby members. The social game was a fiercely fought affair with the gracious Freeport team submitting to a loss at the hands of a very talented touring side who happen to boast being state champions for the past five years.
A number of fixtures are planned for this year to be hosted by Freeport and Nassau and hopefully more foreign touring teams will be added to the programs later in the season.
The Freeport Youth Festival is once again scheduled to take place in Freeport this year on May 13 and 14. – Dave Mellor
Photo: FRFC’s Michael Watson leaps up as he scores a try against Buccaneers during their Heineken Cup match Saturday, January 4, 2020 at the Freeport Rugby Club. Credit: Timmy “Muscles” Aylen
Just a quick update to let everyone know our Membership Cocktail Party will be held on Friday, December 16th from 7 pm.
More than ever The Club relies on the memberships and the fundraising we do to keep the lights on and all our junior and senior programs going so please come along for a few drinks on The Club and pay your memberships fees for the 2022/23 season.
MEMBERSHIP COCKTAIL PARTY
THE FREEPORT RUGBY & FOOTBALL CLUB
FRIDAY DECEMBER 16TH FROM 7 PM TO 10 PM
VICE-PRESIDENT $200.00pa (Polo Shirt included)
FAMILY FEES $175.00pa
PLAYING / FULL FEES $125.00pa
SOCIAL / JUNIOR $50.00pa
In the meantime, all our programs are operating with good numbers and continue to provide a safe and productive environment for all the kids.
It’s been a while and we hope everyone is well and we wanted to briefly update everyone on The Club and our activities –
Freeport Inter Squad (junior and senior) players having a scrimmage
Bar will be OPEN so please pass by
All our programs are up and running and these are –
Senior Soccer – Monday and Wednesday 6.30pm
Senior Rugby – Tuesday, Thursday and Saturdays
Junior Rugby – Saturday Mornings 10.00am
Junior Soccer – Saturday Mornings at 11.30am
We are now collecting Memberships for the 2022/23 season and please find below the membership form. We will soon be letting everyone know the date for the Membership Party but in the meantime if you can join we would be most grateful. After a trying couple of years EVERY cent we collect goes directly into running and programs and the upkeep of The Club. Please contact me if you have any questions.
Look forward to seeing everyone soon.
Just wanted to update everyone on what is happening at The Club. For once we can say that we are moving in the right direction!
All our programs are happening with Junior Soccer going great guns. On Saturday mornings both our Senior Rugby and Soccer Programs are seeing good numbers and increasing every week, which is great to see. We even managed to have our first full Soccer game against the YMCA on Sunday, so great stuff by our coaches for all our programs.
Of course, we rely on donations, memberships, and goodwill to keep the Club going, so we would welcome anyone who wishes to join for the 2021/22 season. Please let me know how you would like to join by contacting us. We have new Polo Shirts which are available to purchase or included in our $200 VP membership and memberships start from $50. Any and all donations are welcome. We will ensure every dollar given to us will be used in the right way as we intend to keep the doors open and offer as many programs as we can.
Look forward to finally having some games at The Club in the coming months. We hope everyone stays safe and healthy in these trying times.