Antigua and Barbuda’s first-ever professional football club, Barracuda FC, has officially signed to compete in the United Soccer Leagues for the 2011 season as the USL continues the expansion of its top professional league.
The agreement was signed Monday night at a function at the Sugar Ridge hotel in Antiguan between officials of the USL and Barracuda featuring, USL Senior Director of International Development Francisco Marcos and Barracuda’s chairman Gordon Derrick, CEO Roger “Bo” Matthew and Fernando Abraham, director.
“This is yet another positive step forward in the growth of the USL First Division for 2011,” Papadakis said.
“Coupled with our announcement of Orlando as a 2011 expansion team, the addition of Barracuda FC continues USL’s positive momentum with more news to come.
“What makes this even more exciting is the overall effect on the region that USL expansion in the Caribbean will have,” Papadakis continued.
“Not only does it increase the profile of soccer throughout the region, but the addition of Barracuda FC creates a natural geographic rival for the Puerto Rico Islanders, one of USL’s most exciting and accomplished teams, as well as opening the door for other Caribbean clubs to join the USL First Division.
“We also look forward to working with Gordon Derrick and Bryan Hamilton, Barracuda FC’s Technical Director, to develop soccer opportunities for all ages on this beautiful island, not only at the professional level, but for the boys and girls youth and developmental players as well.”
The USL First Division season runs from April through October, and in addition to league play, Barracuda FC intends to compete in premier international tournaments and exhibitions such as the Caribbean Football Union Club Championship and the CONCACAF Champions League.
Barracuda was established in 2008 with the main purpose of raising the bar of club management and creating a professional team that would provide an avenue for talented footballers in Antigua and Barbuda and the Eastern Caribbean.
The club’s business philosophy is providing first-class family entertainment for all age groups throughout Antigua & Barbuda and the neighboring Islands in the Eastern Caribbean, including the US British Virgin Islands, St Kitts-Nevis, St. Maarten-St. Martin and Montserrat.
Barracuda’s players have been recruited locally, with most coming from the senior and U-21 National teams.
Regional trials will be held in the Leeward and Windward Islands for the 2011 season to identify the best players from throughout the region and developing the talent within the club.
It is expected that Barracuda will eventually be comprised of 70 percent Antiguan players and 30 percent regional players, though international players will be not ruled out.
“I am extremely excited about the prospect of Antigua and Barbuda’s Barracuda FC joining the USL First Division for 2011,” Derrick said.
“This is a historic event in the history of football in Antigua and Barbuda and our entry into USL in 2011 will be the catalyst for the quantum leap in development of the sport in our country. We are also excited about bringing our Antiguan flair to the sport and displaying it throughout the cities participating in this most prestigious league.
“We promise a most rewarding experience when the fans of our opponents come to support their teams here in Antigua, and for that matter they may not want to return to their homes. After all, Antigua and Barbuda is the last stop before Heaven.”