Montserrat’s Soufriere Hills volcano eruption shook the entire city and converted a once hustling and bustling town into a graveyard of the memories of what it once used to be. Whilst this tragedy took place in the year 1995, the effects lasted five years, forcefully causing two thirds of the population to move out as the entire city was doused in thick layers of ash, with sulphur oxide making the air unbreathable.
Shaken by this devastating incident, most of the city’s inhabitants migrated to the UK, and whilst the volcanoes destroyed everything, it did not demolish the unity, patriotism and love that people of Caribbean origin had for their homeland. As such, the football team was a labor of the same love, with UK players wanting to give back to their ancestral land.
Between the years 1991 to 2012, they won only two matches from the 27 that they played, and hence were known as one of the world’s worst ranked football teams. A sliver of hope made its way through to the team when they were finally able to host matches on their homeland in 2004, however, their performance remained the same as before and they lost, 7-0 to Bermuda.
Despite these hurdles, the team is still overcoming obstacles to perform their best, and has hope to secure their spot in the FIFA world cup. Dyer, one the team’s core members, explained that this was due to lack of proper resources and continuous games. From 2012 to 2017, the team only played seven times. He mentioned, “As we’ve gone on it’s got gradually better and in the last few years it’s exploded. We’ve got a fantastic sponsor who gets that we’re not just a team that wants to play football and win games. They get the journey, and they get the island.” He also added that when he started, there was not enough funding to even get proper kits for the team.
Standards and results have improved beyond recognition. Montserrat came agonisingly close to qualifying for the 2019 Gold Cup, the Concacaf equivalent of the European Championship, just missing out on goal difference to El Salvador, a country of 6.5m ranked 100 places above them.
Even though it’s been a long journey, and an exhausting one, the sheer determination of those willing to give back to their nation has stood the test of time and gradually improved. The core players believe that with proper practice schedules they will be able to defeat some of the best teams as they already have a good team that needs more practice to function together.
“You have good times and hard times but everyone knows why we’re there and what we’re doing it for. Everyone’s just out there to do as well as we can for the country.” says Dyer in his concluding statement.