History was made over the past 48 hours as four Barbadians signed professional contracts with Finnish football Club Kemi City FC. Senior national team captain, Rashad Jules along with teammates Jomo Harris, Ackeel Applewhaite and Shane Codrington have all signed up for two-year stints after impressing the coaching staff at the club.
Speaking shortly after the news broke, Barbados Football Association Technical Director Ahmed Mohamed explained that he felt proud of the young men's achievement. “This is very good and positive news for everybody who loves football and especially for Barbados because it is the first time in history that four players were signed professionally at the same time. This shows all the effort and hard work that we put in our national programme. What we are seeing are the fruits of what we implemented since I came here. I am proud and I am happy for the players that they can really earn money doing what they love and what they really want to do.” he said.
Revealing that the contracts were all for two years with the option for extensions, Mohamed said that he hoped that they could go on to higher clubs and leagues by the January transfer window, but it was all up to them and their performances.
Mohamed, who was born in Somalia but spent most of his life in Switzerland where he played and picked up his coaching and technical designations, said that his time in Europe has afforded him many connections, which he was taking advantage of now. “The thing is, I know what sort of players European clubs want. Every club looks for certain types of players with certain knowledge of the game. My job is to make sure that we reach that level so that I can offer the Barbadian players to all my contacts in Europe. I have wide network – I have a lot of friends who are coaches, sporting directors and technical directors and that makes it easier for me when I have the players with the quality that those European clubs are looking for.” he said.
With Roshon Gittens and Abiola Grant from the national Under-17 set-up also on trial in Slovakia, Mohamed revealed that there were three other players earmarked for trials in Europe as well. With the number of players eligible to play for Barbados now up to 17, Mohamed said that this was all in a bid to qualify for a major tournament. “This year, the main goal is to have 10 professional players outside. Ten home-grown professional players. That is my personal goal and thanks to God, we are getting closer because the whole world is seeing now the kind of players we are producing with our success in our various national teams that we have. We have the respect now. We are on the map and by the next international senior game that we have, it will be very interesting to see how many overseas players we will have.” he said.