There is no doubt that St. Lucia is blessed with talent. But what is talent without hard work, drive and the determination to follow your dreams? Today we take you through the European journey of a very passionate young footballer. David Henry is a twenty-three-year-old native of Canaries who has big dreams that he is not afraid to follow. In an attempt to secure a professional contract, David invested in himself and embarked on a trip around Europe. From Malta all the way to Ireland, David traveled all over on his quest. Here, David takes us through Europe and paints a vivid picture of his Euro trip.
“My European journey was an amazing one. It started off with the interest from FC Markstars of Tbilisi, Georgia after which I traveled to Malta. After two successive trials with St. Andrews FC and Pembroke FC in Malta BOV Premier League, I missed an opportunity when the manager who linked me to Malta took me to trials elsewhere instead of my contract deciding friendly. He was prepared to have me returned to Saint Lucia after the trials, so I walked the streets asking directions to San Gwann FC (the club I signed with), a BOV division 1 side. Then I said to the recruiter, “Listen you need a striker I’m here, let the coach know I’m coming to training.” I got in touch with a player manager there, Luis Agus who saw to it that paper work was completed. Despite recently hearing that the club doesn’t do well and mistreats black players, I had a great time over there.
I built interest from clubs in the League of Ireland and it wasn’t long before I was invited to train with 4 clubs there.
I gave a really good account of what Saint Lucian talent has to offer. Because of the posting of my match highlights every week, I started getting invites from Clubs all over Europe, to come over for training.
Each club (in Ireland) offered me a short-term contract (lasting until the end of the season) but I had not yet secured a work permit. In addition to that, there was a 6-week approval period for the Irish Immigration. The clubs found issue with that, but they applied for the work permit nonetheless. It boiled down to approval for a Sports and Cultural Work Permit, and the criteria which disallowed the approval stated “the player has to play 75% of his country’s games within two years”. Research revealed that St. Lucia only played 2 games in two years and the Irish immigration did not find it satisfactory for approval. The Windward island tournaments are not counted as FIFA Competitive A tournaments, but friendlies. Following the windward island tournaments all we played was World Cup Qualifiers.
That was a big disappointment, but I continued inspiring other Saint Lucian footballers to achieve their goals because I know that it is possible. I then went to Czech Republic, despite the hundreds of discouraging messages from players around the world who went there. I used my last dollar to fly over there, to a few clubs who wanted to know who I was. Despite the cruel treatment by locals and players, I still had a great display but turned down a contract there for integrity reasons and returned back home.”
Regardless of the hurdles which David has encountered he has not given up on the dream and he is still actively seeking a way to make this come to fruition. Like a true patriot, he has been engaged in coaching and is now assisting in the development of subsequent national footballers in his home country.
“Now I am coaching youth nationally to help raise the next generation in my country. I am waiting for the Saint Lucian FA to get some competitive games to facilitate the work permit succession and things should be fine. I am confident that the St. Lucian FA will put the right formula together to start climbing the rankings again. In fact, I have the belief that with my FA President Lyndon Cooper, Saint Lucia will venture towards climbing the rankings again.”
Full of confidence and tremendous talent, this is clearly not the end of the road for David. His experiences have been eye opening and he is fully equipped for the next part of his journey. Where to next? One can only hope that there is a big move coming for David in 2017.
‘’Limerick FC, Sligo Rovers, UCD FC, Wexford Youth has been in touch a couple days ago, about coming over. Head coach of Eastern Surburbs in New Zealand has been in contact, as well as a few Maltese Clubs.
Limerick FC chairman has invited me as a friend of the club to come over to ambassador their Sports Transition to Education Program, in Limerick. The program uses key influential players like myself to help with literacy and numeracy problems with children, a program that I hope I could introduce to Saint Lucia. So, the future looks bright.’’
The future looks bright indeed! Sporte Avis thanks David for speaking with us, and we wish him the very best in his footballing endeavors this year and beyond. Keep inspiring young people, David!