Bascome undeterred by franchise delay

From: The Royal Gazette by Dexter Smith, Head of Sport

The novel coronavirus pandemic has brought live sport in Bermuda to a screeching halt and steamrollered a number of future events in its wake.

Football already has been stopped in midseason, with the Bermuda Day Half-Marathon the biggest single event to fall by the wayside, and Cup Match is under serious threat amid a government shelter-in-place order that could continue until the end of June, if increased testing does not have the desired effect.

The latest to feel the effects of the “new normal” is FC Bascome Bermuda, which announced last week that it is abandoning plans to play in USL League Two until 2021.

Apart from the recent exploits of the national team in the Concacaf Gold Cup and Nations League, this was meant to be the biggest development for local football for a decade, following in the footsteps of the Bermuda Hogges semi-professional set-up, which disbanded in 2013 for financial reasons.

It is also another blow for a stalled tourism effort, as a partnership with Grotto Bay Beach Resort&Spa was meant to feature an estimated $1.1 million in generated visitor spending and more than 600 hotel rooms over the course of hosting seven matches.

Andrew Bascome, the FCBB head coach and director of football, said: “We have had to put this experience into perspective.

“While we are disappointed with the outcome, FCBB appreciates that this pandemic has created an unprecedented challenge for us all, and the safety and health of everyone involved goes before everything else.”

FC Bascome Bermuda were meant to open their involvement on May 9 at North Field, National Sports Centre, against Philadelphia Lone Star, but it was the ramifications of the first scheduled away fixture — against West Chester FC in Pennsylvania on May 17 — that prompted a decision to “take a hiatus”.

Richard Calderon, the FCBB general manager, said: “Our decision is directly related to the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and the uncertainty that accompanies it. Being one of the few international clubs outside of the United States, we face the additional challenge of international travel.

“For the last 14 months, we have diligently worked towards the May 9 inaugural match, so there is a real sense of disappointment among everyone involved with FCBB.”

Mr Calderon added: “However, all are resolved to continuing the work with a view to the 2021 season.

“We have already started the process of communicating our decision with sponsors, vendors, partners and selected players and will continue to engage with them over the next several months.

“The amount of support we have received from everyone, especially local sponsors and donors, has been very encouraging, and our job is now to carry that momentum into an even better execution for the 2021.”

Bascome was one of the finest footballers of his generation, having broken into an already dominant North Village team as a slightly built 16-year-old in 1979 and developed into a mainstay of the national programme.

But his career was cut short by injury and much of his focus since has been on giving back — first as a coach, notably with Village, Boulevard and Bermuda, then through the formation of his ABC Valencia youth set-up.

It is why this initiative, cooked up at Bernard Park 15 years through a youth development programme, has such import.

“This is not just a kick but a vehicle for the youth,” said Bascome, who reiterated that the target age of players is between 17 and 19. We want them to use this as a tool for having the right grades to get into college. We want a base of players, about 30 to 35, for a training camp.”

Bascome, who said up to eight over-age players may be included, added that the experience for the players should be character building.

To aid in the endeavour, the services of former broadcast journalist Gary Moreno have been enlisted.

“When we first put this together, Gary expressed an interest,” Bascome said. “His experience with interviewing and getting behind a camera would be an asset in preparing our players for that side of the game. That is very important.”