USL President Jake Edwards and Carribean Football Union President Randolph Harris at the USL Mid-Year Meetings in July, held in Louisville, Ky. | Photo courtesy Clay Benjamin / United Soccer League
TAMPA, Fla. – The United Soccer League and the Caribbean Football Union today announced a new long-term partnership that will help shape the future of the game across the Caribbean Football Union’s 31 member nations. The wide-ranging agreement will create more professional opportunities for Caribbean players, coaches, referees, and front office staff in the USL Championship and USL League One.
The two organizations will collaborate to increase and enhance player scouting across the Caribbean region including at events such as the Caribbean Club Championship and Caribbean Cup. Soon, the USL will create and announce details of a combine for select players from across the CFU member nations to compete in front of USL technical staffs.
The USL will support the CFU’s endeavor to build certification programs for coaches, sporting directors and executives designed to boost professional development and open the door to coaching opportunities in the USL. USL Sporting Director Mark Cartwright and club technical staff will share best practices on an ongoing basis with their counterparts in Caribbean professional leagues.
The USL and CFU will explore development opportunities for Caribbean referees within the USL ecosystem, from the youth to the professional ranks.
The USL will welcome CFU executives to league meetings where they will have the opportunity to participate in educational sessions and meet and interact with the owners and executives from USL's league office and clubs. The CFU will provide USL executives the same opportunity at meetings or events it may conduct throughout the year.
“Caribbean football has made tremendous contributions to the USL over the years and this partnership creates an exciting opportunity to augment that legacy,” said USL President Jake Edwards. “We are thrilled to work with the Caribbean Football Union and its members to grow the sport throughout the region and impact our communities together.”
Caribbean players have featured prominently in the USL's history. In the Championship's 11 seasons, three league MVPs have hailed from countries that are members of the CFU (Yordany Alvarez/Cuba, 2011; Kevin Molino/Trinidad and Tobago, 2012/2014; Dane Kelly/Jamaica, 2017), while Kelly and fellow Jamaican Kenardo Forbes are the current all-time leaders in Championship history in regular-season goals and assists respectively.
This past year, both Forbes and fellow Jamaican Neco Brett were voted to the Championship's All-League Team, while 39 players from the Championship and League One were selected to compete by 14 countries within the CFU to play at the senior international level.
“We in the Caribbean Football Union are both pleased and excited by this partnership. Part of our role in the CFU is to lobby for our member associations in all spheres and to court opportunity for administrators, coaches, players and our referees. This agreement does just that, opening pathways for the CFU, and it brings to the USL a tangible benefit, because our people in the Caribbean have the ability to add value wherever they are placed. This collaboration marries talent with opportunity. Everyone wins,” said CFU President Randolph Harris.
The partnership will see the USL look to offer opportunities for training, exposure, and career development both at the USL's league office and with the league's clubs for students enrolled at CFU Knowledge Zone—an online training initiative of the CFU.