Big welcome home for Bermuda's U-17s
HAMILTON, Bermuda, (CMC):
More than 200 people turned out at the L.F. Wade International Airport on Monday night to welcome home Bermuda's triumphant players from the CONCACAF Caribbean Women's Under-17 qualifying tournament in Haiti.
The supporters were on hand to applaud the team's qualification to the tournament finals in Nicaragua early next year.
Bermuda clinched one of two automatic qualifying spots after winning their group before losing 4-1 against the host nation in the final of the qualifying tournament at the Stade Sylvio Cator in Port-au-Prince on Sunday night.
Bermuda Football Association (BFA) officials handed bouquets of flowers to the players as they filed out of the airport to be greeted by loud cheers from a crowd waving flags and blowing air horns.
Among the dignitaries attending the brief ceremony were Premier David Burt, Sports Minister Zane DeSilva, himself a former goalkeeper, and Government Reform Minister Lovitta Foggo along with BFA president Mark Wade.
Bermuda captain Danni Watson was overwhelmed by 'all this love' shown by the crowd swarming outside the arrivals terminal.
"I am in shock at how many people are here," she said. "I am really happy with all the support that we've got from the whole island.
"I wish our overseas players could be here to get all this love and support that we hear from everybody.
"Our girls worked really, really hard for this opportunity that we've earned by working our tails off six days a week.
"We trained, we worked and put in the extra time and energy training on our own, and I really want to thank everybody for supporting us."
Interim Under-17 coach Aaron Denkins said his players deserved their warm reception.
"It is a bit overwhelming for me but well deserved by the girls," he said.
"We were the youngest team in the tournament, we had the youngest captain and the leading goalscorer (LeiLanni Nesbeth).
"We spent a lot of time talking about what it means to be Bermudian, what it means to be resilient and I think they proved that.
"But what I am challenging the players to do now is be humble, stay focused because the job is not done."