Wed | Feb 8, 2023

Blake takes football back to Clarendon

Reggae Boyz captain says eight-a-side competition the start of something big

Published:Wednesday | December 7, 2022 | 12:12 AMOrane Buchanan/Staff Reporter
Philadelphia Union’s Andre Blake. AP
Philadelphia Union’s Andre Blake. AP

REGGAE BOYZ captain and goalkeeper Andre Blake is giving back to his home parish, Clarendon, and anticipates a huge turnout for this year’s staging of ‘Family Soccer Sunday’ on December 11 at the Versalles Football Field, beginning at 10:00 a.m.

The reigning MLS Goalkeeper of the Year said the eight-a-side football competition is his way of remembering his roots.

“As they would say, to whom much is given, much is expected. So, I think it’s only right to really come back to where it all started and to do something for the youths to be able to see me and say, alright this is Andre Blake in the flesh. Persons can ask me questions, because I want to normalise myself, to make them realise that I’m just a human and if I can do it, there is a possibility that they can do it as well,” said the Reggae Boyz skipper.

Blake, 32, who’s supporting defending champions France in the ongoing FIFA World Cup, was buoyed by the fact that his parish of Clarendon had two teams (Clarendon College and Central High School) in the 2022 daCosta Cup final, where his alma mater, Clarendon College, won 3-0.

Blake believes there is much talent in Clarendon and he hopes that the parish can continue to grow as a place where footballing talent is honed.

“Clarendon has really produced some really good talents such as JeVaughn Watson, Rodolph Austin, and we could go back as far as Christopher Dawes. We have some really good talents coming through Clarendon and part of my responsibility is to have a relationship with the schools and help identify the talent coming through the primary schools right up to high school,” he said.

MAINTAINING COMPETITIVE

The former Clarendon College daCosta Cup player believes it’s imperative that competitions of this nature are held to keep the unity within the community along with maintaining competitive football at the grassroots level.

“This competition, as the name states, is a Family Soccer Sunday, where kids and their parents can just come out and be entertained by some quality football and have fun because football is a means of bringing people together,” he said.

The Philadelphia Union standout and four-time MLS All-Star revealed that since the announcement of the upcoming competition, he has been surprised by the level of interest that he’s been seeing.

“It’s being really good. Twenty-one teams have come forward wanting to participate and I don’t think I’ve ever seen that number of teams involved in a one-day competition, so people are interested and players definitely want to be a part of this,” he said.

“This is the start of something big.”

orane.buchanan@gleanerjm.com