BASSETERRE, St. Kitts - MINISTER of Sport the Hon. Shawn Richards, has indicated that the National Under-20 football team has the support of the government in its quest to qualify for the World Cup later this year.
Members of the Junior Sugar Boys team departed the Federation for Costa Rica on Monday (Feb. 6) and Tuesday, and they are expected to lock horns with some of the top teams in the CONCACAF region in their bid to make the World Cup.
Speaking with SKNVibes Sports, Minister Richards said the team has shown that it is able to compete with some of the best teams in the region and by extension, in the world.
“As a matter of fact, if the team did not possess this level of competency, the team would not have been able to reach to this stage,” Richards said.
The team weaved its way through the first two rounds of qualification in the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) zone before making it to the CONCACAF leg of the tournament - the last for teams before the World Cup.
Richards took the opportunity to wish the team well in its qualification bid, stressing the need for continuous practice by all members of the team.
He indicated that, “The team has always had the full support of the government. As a matter of fact, the Football Association has written to the government, specifically the Ministry of Sport asking for assistance for the team to be able to travel, and we have come forward with assistance.”
Executive members of the St. Kitts-Nevis Football Association had indicated at their recently-held press conference that the government was one of several donors that provided financial support to the team for the qualifiers.
The junior Sugar Boys would be playing in a number of friendly games against clubs within Costa Rica before opening the competition against Haiti on February 18. On February 21, they will play Panama, before closing out the group action against the United States on the February 24.
As an incentive for the players, each member of the team was presented with a debit card with US$300 on it.