Barbados is not known for its football prowess but for one local family the opportunity to play international football was too hard to turn down. Brandon Sumpter is a 16 year old goalkeeper from Taranaki who attends Francis Douglas Memorial College. He was born in Barbados but has duel nationality with New Zealand. Whilst Brandon isn't a New Plymouth Rangers player we always love to promote young talent in the region and we have the platforms to do so. Seeing pathways to elite competition is an incentive to our young players who have similar aspirations.
So whilst his classmates are back at school now studying hard, Brandon is at the CONCACAF U17 Qualifying tournament in the USA representing Barbados. He is the starting keeper which is a great achievement for a local player.
After a draw in the first game against Guatemala, the team lost 6-1 to powerhouse USA in the 2nd match. The final group match was against Canada on Tuesday morning and unfortunately finished 4-0 to Canada and confirmed an exit from the tournament for Barbados. Hopefully this is just the start of something great for Brandon as he continues to grow and improve.
Brandon had developed his skills in the rep programme within Taranaki playing in the system until U16 level trained exclusively by Just4Keepers NZ. He is now a key component for the FDMC 1st XI squad which will travel away to the National Secondary Schools tournament in September. The opportunity to represent Barbados came about when he sent a training video to the Barbados international coach who quickly invited Brandon to fly over and trial with the team. The trial was successful and he stayed with the squad as they flew to attend an 8 day training camp at Boca Juniors Football Club with the icing being an international friendly against the power house Argentina.
Now that the tournament is over, Brandon plans to come back, keep developing as a keeper and work hard on his academics at school. He dream is to play professional football one day and hopefully the systems we have in place within Taranaki and NZ give him the best shot at it.