While five FC Dallas players are set to get back from international duty this week, one player who is not gone is Atiba Harris.
Harris has been the standard-bearer for St. Kitts and Nevis, an Eastern Caribbean nation with a population of just more than 50,000. But like many Caribbean nations, St. Kitts and Nevis fell short of this round of World Cup qualification, a regular occurrence in a region that has struggled with administration.
“I think funding is one (way to improve), but I also think you need people in the administration whose sole focus should be on soccer,” Harris said. “I think once we get those people in place who really care about soccer and really focus on development of the game on the islands, I think you’ll see a lot more Caribbean teams making it further and further in the Gold Cup and World Cup qualification.”
After all, football is a global industry and so it will be fantastic to see the country represented on the global stage. Once playing at that level has been attained, concerns about funding will be a thing of the past as sponsorships will be coming in left, right and centre.
“Eventually you might have two Caribbean teams representing the Caribbean in the World Cup one day.”
Harris’ FCD teammate Aubrey David served international duty with Trinidad and Tobago, which has qualified for the final round of CONCACAF qualification, a six-team round-robin known as the Hex.
“We’ve always had talented players over in the Caribbean. Trinidad, for example, they’ve been doing really great. Before they’d been doing well, but as of late they’ve kept it up,” Harris said. “I’m going to be supporting them, my fellow Caribbean guys in the Hex.
“I think Caribbean football in general has seen steady improvement. We still have a lot of developing to do over there, but I think the talent is there. I think if we can get the funding right, we’ll see vast improvement.”
Jon Arnold is an editor at Goal.com and BBC 5 Live’s CONCACAF expert.