Roddy Dowers, the long-standing manager of current national premier division football champions Guardian General Hope International has labelled the club the best football outfit in St Vincent and the Grenadines.
Dowers made this pronouncement as he spoke at the club’s 20th anniversary cocktail and awards ceremony on December 29, which was staged at the Haddon Hotel at Mc Kies Hill.
“There is no club, absolutely no club, no football club in St Vincent than is a better club than Hope International …I say that whether or not we are winning or we (are) losing… We are the light for football and I say that with no water in my mouth,” Dowers boasted.
Formed in 1995, as a spill-off from the now defunct Valley Stars of Roseau, Sion Hill, Hope International has, over the years, set itself high standards, which sometimes opens them up to harsh criticism.
Dowers said the situation with Hope International is like when Brian Lara, the former West Indian cricketer and world record holder for the highest individual scores at Test and first class levels, went out to bat, everyone expected a century.
“Hope suffers from what I like to call the Brian Lara syndrome …When Hope steps out…. One little mistake or if we had a bad game…. Everything is seen by everyone….”
Dowers said that even in the club’s years of title drought, there were opposing teams who were still edgy about encountering Hope International on the field.
Dowers noted that his club, more than any other, has made efforts to get players on professional contracts.
“We have tried as hard as we could to get players out to play professionally…. We have the way in that regard…. We have done even more than local football associations and local football federations as it relates to developing footballers professionally,” Dowers said.
He said he believes that if the opportunities which are available today existed 20 years back, Hope International would have had more footballers playing their trade professionally.
Among those under the banner of Hope International and the pursuance of Dowers who have procured professional contracts were Marlon James, Cornelius Huggins and Cornelius Stewart.
Dowers admitted that the current players of Hope International are harvesting the benefits of the seeds sown by their predecessors of 20 years ago.
Last Tuesday night’s ceremony was held under the theme “Founded through hope, forged to succeed, 20 years and growing.”