“[…] I saw a video of a women’s league game [in Antigua and Barbuda] and it reminded me of the Secondary Schools Football League in Trinidad back in the day, when the fans lined up around the ropes…”
Wired868 has spoken to Trinidad and Tobago coaches employed around the Caribbean in the men’s game: Russell Latapy (Barbados), Jamaal Shabazz (Guyana), Rajesh Latchoo (Dominica) and Stern John (Anguilla).
Today, we talk to 39-year-old Prince Borde, who is head coach of the Antigua and Barbuda Women’s National Senior Team.
After successive defeats to Puerto Rico (0-4) and Mexico (0-8) in February, Antigua and Barbuda have no chance of qualifying for the 2022 Concacaf W Championship, However, there is still pride at stake as they face Anguilla (6 April) and Suriname (12 April) over the next two weeks.
Wired868: What are your thoughts on Antigua and Barbuda’s campaign so far?
Prince Borde: Our campaign has been successful so far. You may ask how can I say that when both games were losses for us, but against Mexico we played against professionals—even a player that plays for Barcelona. During the match you can see that we earned their respect and after the game the coach said ‘you did an amazing job’. She seemed to be surprised.
Puerto Rico are a quality side. Their goalkeeper played for the national championship FSU team—that’s the type of talent that they put out on the field. So in saying that, I felt we were outstanding. We started slow, we were very nervous. At 1-0 down, I thought we should have had a penalty. We just lacked concentration in the first half. Losing 4-0 [after] giving up two penalties wasn’t a bad result… We were very organised and played bravely as the game went on.
Remember the average age of the Antigua and Barbuda starting XI was 20.7. So I was proud of the team. (Before the qualifiers) we won our two warm-up matches vs USVI and our 4-0 win in one of those games might be the biggest margin of victory by any Antiguan women’s team.
Wired868: What are the strengths of your team? What do they have to work on?
Borde: Our main strength is that we are athletic. We possess a lot of pace and have a very tough tackling group. We need to continue working on our speed of play and improving on offensive principles and how we transition. Remember we are a very young group.
Also being island people, we have a huge sense of togetherness and family. People look out for each other here. When I got there, I tried to understand the culture of the people and it was very similar to back home. So as a coach I try to allow them to play as their culture does.
They are united, family-oriented, hard-working, and have a never-say-die attitude. So we picked players that exemplified what the country stands for.
Wired868: What is your own background in football and as a coach?
Borde: Well I was born by my grandmother in Toco and grew up in La Horquetta and then Santa Cruz. I went to Tunapuna Secondary and was a standout there and U-14 and U-16 and got an invite to the national pool. (Borde’s younger brother, Phillip Borde, represented Trinidad and Tobago at national Under-23 level under then head coach Angus Eve in 2011.)
When my family migrated to the States, I played division two football at Palm Beach Atlantic where I tore my both ACLs […] and decided I wanted to stay in football and coach.
I started coaching at 25 and coached at three different colleges (Louisiana College in NCAA division three, Trinity Baptist College in NCCAA Christian division, and Brewton-Parker College in NAIA)—all three I took from zero wins to competing for league titles. I have won Coach of the Year three times. So I guess I am known for taking losing teams and making them into championship contenders.
(Borde has a USSF ‘D’ license. The NCAA Division One is the top division in the US collegiate competitions.)
Wired868: What do you see as your major asset as a coach?
Borde: I am a tactical coach. I don’t feel like I am out of any game as a coach. Tactically I put players in place to play to their strengths. I am also a good motivator. Coaching is about impacting lives. It’s our job to make sure we care about our players’ livelihoods and not just winning football matches—that will come. I just want them to do everything that they do in life to the best of their abilities. Once you are holistic in your approach, the football comes easy; then performances happen.
I demand a lot of players and I also demand a lot out of myself. How can you obtain something if you don’t make yourself uncomfortable to reach it?
Wired868: What is your football association’s target?
Borde: The (Association) wants us to be competitive and that we have done. I have only been here for a couple of months and I can see the women’s game is developing. The (Association) has put a lot of emphasis on women’s football development and I think it is more advanced than a lot of Caribbean islands. Right before Covid, a women’s league was being formed and the local-based players have been training together for some time now.
These women love football. You can tell they have been yearning for opportunities. The (Association) and Government have done a good job sending players over to the United States to play college soccer and the fans turn out to watch all levels of women’s football here. It’s really impressive.
I saw a video of a women’s league game and it reminded me of the Secondary Schools Football League in Trinidad back in the day, when the fans lined up around the ropes
Like most countries, just enhancing the women’s league is what needs to be worked on. They need to be playing consistently. The base and infrastructure is there to launch it, so it is only a matter of time before it starts back up.
Wired868: What do you hope for in your closing two matches?
Borde: We are looking for results in the last two matches and, most importantly, improved performances. Once we have good performances, the results will come. When you play any game you play to win, whether it’s dominoes or all-fours, and it is the same thing with football matches.
In the first two games, we played to win. We didn’t play to keep the score down or to prevent goals. We believe in ourselves and we will have the same approach in the next two matches.
At the end of the day, you can have great performances and lose. Once we have great performances and the team performs to their best, as a staff that’s all you can ask for.
Editor’s Note: Wired868 also reached out to Ahkeela Mollon (Anguilla) and Izler Browne to discuss their own campaigns. Mollon had not responded up to the time of publication while Browne, as an assistant coach, was not authorised to speak on behalf of her team.
USVI lost their opening qualifiers to Guatemala (0-9) and Costa Rica (6-0) while Anguilla fell to Puerto Rico (0-9) and Suriname (0-5).