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Entertainment / News / Virgin Islands / March 2, 2015

Coaching kids is not just about teaching them how to kick a ball, but we’re training them on how to become good adults. — Marlon Hibbert, U-15 coach

Family, friends, coaches and deserving athletes came together on Saturday night as part of the Free Will Warriors Soccer Club’s First Awards and Recognition Banquet held at the school’s gymnasium.

The evening was filled with expressions of appreciation from club leaders, coaches and church officials. It recognized players and all those involved in supporting the soccer club’s efforts since its inception in 2009, and the growth of the Free Will Baptist School soccer program, which began in 2000.

“A lot of folks give of their time, put a lot of time and effort in being with the kids. It’s not easy. So, that’s why we decided to do something like this to show our appreciation,” said Club President, Sheldon DeGazon.

The Warriors soccer program was first introduced at the private Christian school, located near St. Croix’s Sion Hill, at the elementary level. As the sport’s popularity grew on campus, a junior varsity team was formed, followed by the varsity level. The Warriors soccer club also offers three levels of participation open to the general public, including U-15, a Men’s League, and Over 40.


Humberto Delgado was recognized for Most Goals Scored for the U-15 team


“We have won championships at each level thus far,” DeGazon said. In fact, he said last year, when the school did not have the required amount of students for its varsity team, the Warriors joined forces with players from St. Croix’s IQRA school to win the island’s varsity championship. The Warriors also won the elementary championship and were runners’ up at the junior varsity level.

“It’s been good seeing the kids go from the different levels,” DeGazon said. “Some of the kids that actually started with us at the elementary level, actually now play with us in our men’s team.”

In 2012, the Warriors Soccer Club became a full member of the USVI Soccer Association. And for the first time this season, which begins on March 9, DeGazon said the school will be adding an all-girls’ team to the school’s roster.

“In the school, this year, we’re going to have three elementary teams, one of which will be all girls,” he said. “That’s really nice; we’ve been looking forward to seeing that.”

Of the addition of the new girls’ team, DeGazon said, “Its a wonderful sight to see when I drive by on the road and I look out on the field in the evenings and I see all three groups practicing.”

And the hard work of those students who practiced and played last season payed off, as many were recognized for their accomplishments on the field. Humberto Delgado received the award for Most Goals Scored for U-15. In the Men’s League, Brandon Blair received the award for the Most Goals Scored; Ateeq Yasin received the award for Most Improved Player; and Jahidi Gussie, the team’s goalkeeper, took home the team’s Most Valuable Player award.

“It’s just something to keep the kids occupied, as opposed to other things that they could be doing,”DeGazon, a deacon at Free Will Baptist Church, said of the soccer club’s mission. He went on to explain why he considers the organization to be a ministry tool, and not only a sporting club.

“Being a Christian and a man of God, our first desire is to see people come to know the Lord and Savior,” he began. “We don’t ask only Christians to come and join our team; anybody is welcomed to join.”

He continued: “And by our actions, the way we carry ourselves as a Christian, we hope that it will enlighten them to see, well, ‘We can have fun doing Christian living’ because a lot of people feel that as a Christian you have to give up a lot of things. It’s all about keeping the kids occupied.

“Our ulterior motive is to show that we can be Christians and still have fun. It’s a ministry because we give our time to the Lord and in doing that, we help the kids out,” he explained.

In order to keep the club afloat financially, DeGazon said a car wash is conducted once every month.

“We try not to burden the school and the church too much with finances,” he said. “They give of their field and at night, when we come to practice, the lights go on. WAPA bill is very expensive and they pay that. But everything else, we take care of — soccer balls, nets for the balls, marking the field — we do that ourselves. It takes a burden off the school and we try not to be a burden.”

During his recognition of the youngsters he coaches, Marlon Hibbert, U-15 coach, said, “Coaching kids is not just about teaching them how to kick a ball, but we’re training them on how to become good adults.”

In addition to awards being presented to students and coaches, the evening was punctuated by a musical selection from Angela Wooten singing “My Light House” and a rousing rendition of “Never Give Up” performed by soloist, Kendra. Michael Belgrave of St. Croix’s Rising Stars Steelpan Orchestra also performed. Hillaren Frederick, president of the USVI Soccer Association gave remarks and presented awards to the students.

The Free Will Warriors Soccer Club meets every Friday at the school in Sion Hill from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. All are invited to join.

Cynthia Graham

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