The Turks and Caicos soccer team - worst in the world?
The Turks and Caicos Islands may be famous for some things - their palm-fringed beaches, luxury hotel resorts and an exotic history as a pirate hideaway. However, the footballing prowess of the people of the islands is not one of them.
This is unfair, though. But it isn't the skills and achievements of the islanders on the soccer field that are celebrated, it is the lack of both. The Turks and Caicos Islands are currently ranked 207th out of the world's national teams, out of 207. Since becoming a fully recognised member of FIFA in 1996, the islands have played 14 matches, losing 11 of them (but they have recorded victories against St. Lucia and a local grudge match against the Cayman Islands). And they have not won for 5 years. It isn't a proud record.
A tiny pool of tropical talent
But those in charge of Turks and Caicos socccer are trying hard to improve the nation's ranking and banish their reputation as the world's worst. Led by 41 year-old Englishman Matthew Green, the national team includes only a couple of players based outside the islands. The others are anything from postmen to builders. This makes Green's job extra-tough, coupled with the fact that he only has about 25 regular players to choose from.
This kind of soccer is worlds away from the Premier League or the World Cup Finals. It is much more down to earth, as Green's story shows. Starting off as a teacher in the Bahamas, he won a few school league titles and speculatively applied for the role as "Technical Director" for the Turks and Caicos Islands. Apparently, his CV was more than adequate, and he went from School coach to national manager in the space of months.
Turks and Caicos soccer, on the up?
Things are looking up for the Turks and Caicos soccer team, however. The islands recently completed a 5,000 capacity stadium and 10 academies now train youngsters on the island of Providenciales. Money from FIFA has been allocated to a brand new training complex with cafe, a state of the art artificial surface and even a beach soccer pitch. Still, results have not been kind, and the islands are not helped by how infrequently they play. The last match was a 6-0 drubbing by Barbados in July 2011.
Soccer on the islands also has to compete with American sports like Basketball for the attention of young people, as well as the attraction of the beach. But soccer has an even more menacing foe on the Turks and Caicos Islands - the national sport of Dominoes. Well sponsored and well attended Dominoes matches see Turks and Caicos players squaring up competitively with their Caribbean contemporaries. Sadly, the islands' soccer players have a long way to go before they can say the same, but they are trying.
Posted by: Turkscaicos-islands.com