Four V.I. teenagers from St. Thomas are traveling to Spain, where they will compete for spots in professional soccer club academies.
The players from the U.S. Virgin Islands that left Monday are Elton Richards, a center back; Dalton Parr, another center back; Connor Querrard, a goalkeeper; and Jimson St. Louis, a forward.
The object of the trip is to get all four players into academies in Spain, according to Joseph Limeburner, founder of the LRVI Football Club and coach of the national team for under-17 boys and under-20 boys. He is also an assistant coach of the under-23 USVI national team.
The opportunity is possible because, “ the number of players that the club produced on the national team levels caught the eye of other professionals, who began reaching out and expressing interest in the players. The results are starting to get better to where people are starting to take notice in the quality of players we are producing.” Limeburner said.
If a player is selected it would be “validation that our developmental plan is working,” he said.
But either way, the trip is an opportunity for the young players.
“Even if the players do not get selected, it is a huge opportunity for the players because they will have the opportunity to see what it is like training to be a professional soccer player in Europe and is a huge step in their developmental process as they will be able to compare themselves to their overseas peers,” he said.
The group is traveling with Tommy Carter’s Elite Academy. Last time the program went to Spain it brought 18 players and nine received spots on teams over there.
They will travel throughout Spain for two weeks, going to seven different academy tryouts.
All four of the USVI players have played in the national team system since the under 15 level. Querrard has made it the furthest in the national team, with a spot on the under-23 Olympic qualifying roster.
The players have all played for LRVI Football Club for nine years and are going into their senior year of high school. Any who are selected would stay in Spain to finish schooling and begin training at an academy.
Limeburner said the experience will accomplish one of the main goals of LRVI FC, which is “to give Virgin Islands soccer players an opportunity to play soccer at a higher level and create exposure and growth locally and abroad.”
This is the first step of making that goal a reality, as it is the club’s first time being able to send players for international tryouts. Next year they hope to increase the number to 10 and include members from the girl’s side of the club as well.
Limeburner thinks this trip will “open the door for many others.”
The club will take place in an exchange program with European teams after the summer. European players from harsher winter climates will train in the Virgin Islands in the fall, and players from the Virgin Islands will go to Europe in the spring or summer.
LRVI FC will move up to elite travel team status in September, but to do so must limit itself to 20 players per age group. Tryouts for those spots will take place then.
The elite status will allow the club to send players to three college identification camps for the under-17 and under-19 players, while the younger players will go to three tournaments a year.
More information about the club can be found on its Facebook page and they can be contacted through that page.