- Capital: Bridgetown
- Official Languages: English
- Recognised Regional Languages: Bajan Creole
- Nicknames: Bajan Tridents
- Association: Barbados Football Association (BFA)
- FIFA Code: BRB
- Best World Cup Result (Men): Not Qualified
- Best World Cup Result (Women): Not Qualfied
- Best Gold Cup Result (Men): Not Qualified
- Best Gold Cup Result: (Women): Not Qualified
- Best Caribbean Cup Result (Men): Fourth Place (2005)
- Highest FIFA Ranking (Men): 92nd (October 2009)
- Highest FIFA Ranking (Women): 115th (June 2018)
- Lowest FIFA Ranking (Men): 181st (July 2017)
- Lowest FIFA Ranking (Women): 148th (September 2015)
- Most Capped Player: Norman Forde – 74 caps
- Top Scorer: Llewellyn Riley – 23 goals
Barbados is a island country which is situated in the Lesser Antilles region of the West Indies, in the Caribbean region of the Americas. It is the most easterly of all the Caribbean islands. The island is 21 miles in length, up to 14 miles wide, and as of 2019, was estimated to have a population of around 287,000 people. Barbados is 104 miles east of both Saint Lucia and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, 110 miles southeast of the French overseas department of Martinique, and 250 miles northeast of Trinidad and Tobago.
In terms of football in Barbados, The Barbados Football Association was founded way back in 1910 and was originally named as The Barbados Football Amateur Association. The association changed their name to its current guise in 1925. The governing body of football in Barbados became affiliated to CONCACAF and the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) in 1967 and one year later with FIFA. As well as overseeing both the male and female national teams, the association also heads the domestic league and cup structure on the island with the top league being the Digicel Premier League. All games in Barbadian league football are played at the National Stadium in Bridgetown.
The most successful club in the history of Barbadian football is the delightfully named Carrington Village based club – Weymouth Wales FC. The club who were founded in 1958 currently have 18 league titles to their name, the first of which came in 1962 with their most recent triumph coming in 2018. Added to their league title haul are 11 Barbados FA Cup wins and 11 Capelli Cups.
The male Barbados national football team played their first ever game on 20th April 1929 which resulted in a 3-0 victory over Trinidad and Tobago on home soil. Just two years later Barbados were beaten 9-0 by British Guiana (now Guyana), a result which remains to this day as their record defeat. On a more happier note the team recorded their record victory on 24th September 2006, a 7-1 win over Anguilla in a game played in St. John’s, Antigua and Barbuda.
Although they are yet to qualify for a World Cup or indeed a CONCACAF Gold Cup, Barbados achieved a fourth place finish in the 2005 Caribbean Cup – their highest finish in an international tournament to date. As hosts of the 2005 Caribbean Cup, Barbados automatically qualified for the tournament proper, which also included Trinidad and Tobago, Cuba, and Jamaica. Although Barbados failed to win a game in the tournament, they performed admirably in all three games they played, especially in the defeats against Jamaica (0-1) and Trinidad and Tobago (2-3) respectively.
In more recent times, Barbados have not long finished their 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualification campaign. In the first round of qualifying in the CONCACAF region they were drawn in Group D along with Panama, Anguilla, Dominica, and Dominican Republic. The group was eventually won by Panama with Barbados finished with a record of 1 win, 2 draws, and 1 defeat to leave them in third place in the group but eliminated from World Cup Qualifying.
To find out more about a team that has yet to qualify for a World Cup or a CONCACAF Gold Cup tournament, but has tasted a modicum of success in the Caribbean Cup, we spoke to our very own Clint Jones from The 94th Minute who has given us a unique insight into the Barbados male national team. “How?“, we here you cry! Well, Clint recently took over the reigns of the Barbados national team in the hugely popular Football Manager game and is currently writing a blog series of his FM journey. The “Pride & Industry” FM blog series (the name of which was taken from the country’s official motto) can be found HERE. As a result, we thought that we would ask him for his take on things with regards to football on the eastern Caribbean island.
- Clint’s Twitter: @clint_jones
- 94th’s Twitter: @The94thMin
- Blogsite: https://the94thminute.com/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/the94thminute/
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/theclintjones/
Q. Who would you say is your Barbados’ best player and coach/manager of all-time, and the reasonings behind the choices?
For the country’s best-ever player, there are some excellent choices out there. Certainly the country’s all-time top goalscorer Llewellyn Riley would be in the mix. The forward, who had a brief spell in Irish football with Galway United and Sligo Rovers, has an impressive goals-to-game ratio having scored 23 goals in 43 games between 1995 and 2005. There is also midfielder Norman Forde for his record number of caps for the Bajan Tridents, earning 74 caps between 1998 and 2011. However, my choice would have to be the pacy winger Gregory Goodridge. Having accumulated 61 caps and 16 goals throughout this Bajan career between 1995 and 2008, he is currently third in both the all-time appearances and goals scored for Barbados. In addition, he moved away from the island to craft himself an impressive professional career in the lower leagues of the English Football League, playing for such teams as Torquay United, Queens Park Rangers (who paid £250k for his services in 1995!), Cheltenham Town, and most famously Bristol City, whom he played 120 games for. Finally, he returned back to the island in 2002 and continued to play within the domestic leagues, winning silverware during that time, and playing well into his 40s! Incredible!
As for the best manager, it’s a difficult one to answer as none really particularly stand out. Probably I would have to say it’s the current manager, Russell Latapy. Not only is he considered as one of the best-ever players that the Caribbean has produced, and has that aura about him because of it, but he is a respected coach and has steadily improved the performances and fortunes of the Barbadian national team since he took over in 2019. Under his leadership, Barbados managed to traverse a tricky looking CONCACAF Nations League group to gain promotion to League B, as well as finishing third in a tough (and shortened) World Cup qualifying group. Sadly, his reputation has taken a bit of a beating recently after the fiasco at Fort Lauderdale in July attempting to qualify for the past summer’s Gold Cup…
Q. Who could be regarded as a ‘cult hero’ in terms of the national team both in the past and present?
The first person that comes to mind from the past is Emmerson Boyce. A versatile and dependable defender who had a fantastic career within English football, playing for Luton Town, Crystal Palace, Blackpool, and most famously Wigan Athletic, where he made 263 appearances for the Latics and famously captained Wigan in their 2013 FA Cup Final win over Manchester City. Although born in England, he qualified for Barbados through his parents who were born on the island, and he made twelve appearances for the national side between 2008 and 2016 and also captained them. In addition to his playing career, he continues to influence Barbadian football post-retirement by introducing the Emmerson Boyce Foundation to the island with the aim of helping to coach and develop the next generation of male and female players for Barbados.
From the current squad, I would have to pick the 26-year-old Jomo Harris, who is currently playing for Paradise FC. I always love defensive midfielders, and he is best in the Barbadian squad at shielding the defence. Although he is the son of the BFA and CFU President, Randolph Harris, there’s no nepotism here, and he is more than worthy of his place within the squad. The “Caribbean Kante” as I like to call him, considering he also did a fantastic job for me during my Football Manager save haha.
Q. Of the current team, who would you say is the best player in the Barbadian national side?
It’s probably forward Nick Blackman. The 31-year-old currently plays Maccabi Tel Aviv and is fairly new to the Barbados set-up having made his international debut in just 2019. Although he only has five caps to his name, he has already scored three international goals (at the time of writing), and looks an impressive addition to the Bajan Tridents squad. He comes with a wealth of experience having played for a number of clubs in the English leagues such as Sheffield United, Reading, and Derby County, before moving to Israel (who he could have also qualified to play for) in 2019 to play for one of the biggest Israeli clubs.
Q. How would you describe the current state/performance of the national team?
It’s difficult to estimate where the team currently are at the moment. Overall, I think they are steadily improving as a nation, and with a number of talented young players just breaking into the national team, the future of the team does looks promising. However, they have had a bit of a topsy-turvy 2021. It started with a honourable 1-0 defeat to Panama in March, but followed it with a late victory over the lowest-ranked team of Anguilla. They then achieved two draws against the Dominican Republic (with Barbados conceding an injury time equaliser) and Dominica to finish third place in the World Cup qualifying group – a position expected considering they were the third highest ranked team in the group. However the heavy defeat to Bermuda in July in the Gold Cup qualifying, has put a massive dent in the confidence in the team and raised some questions.
Considering Barbados hasn’t been able to play any further friendly fixtures after the Bermuda defeat, it’s difficult to say how they’ll bounce back after the devastation of the Gold Cup qualification campaign. We can only hope the team will react positively, and that it might become a catalyst for further improvements in the team’s performances in the near future.
Q. Are there any Barbadian players who you think we should be focusing on for the future – who would you say is the most exciting up & coming talent from the country?
There are a few Barbadian youngsters who are looking very promising, with a number of them, in the list below, just recently breaking into the senior squad:
- Thierry Gale – a 19-year-old forward currently at Hungarian side Honvéd.
- Andre Applewhaite – 19-year-old left-back/centre-back currently playing for Weymouth Wales but has earned himself a two-year scholarship at Coastal Bend College in Texas.
- Niall Reid-Stephen – 20-year-old attacking midfielder currently at UWI Blackbirds but scheduled to play for Chicago State University.
- Nashton Browne – 20-year-old goalkeeper playing for Paradise FC who has just recently earned himself a two-year scholarship at Essex County College in New Jersey.
- Roshon “Speedy” Gittens – 19-year-old midfielder currently at Ellerton.
- Abiola Grant – 18-year-old winger who recently moved to Serbian second division side Radnički Sremska Mitrovica.
Q. Looking at Barbados’ international history, what would you say has been the best game, result or performance for the national team in your opinion?
Perhaps not necessarily the best result, but certainly one of the strangest and memorable results in Barbados’ history came during the qualification phase for the 1994 Caribbean Cup. Going into their final qualifying group game, Barbados needed to beat Grenada by two clear goals to progress to the Caribbean Cup. Everything went as planned as the Bajans went 2-0, but they then conceded a goal in the 83rd minute, meaning they would exit the competition. However, this is where it gets strange! Because of the rules of the tournament, a golden goal winner in extra time would count as two goals, therefore Barbados scored an own goal to level the scores to 2-2, hoping to take the game to extra time and grabbing that two goal advantage via the extra time goal. This led to a weird scenario where Barbados were then defending both goals for the final few minutes of the game as Grenada would progress to the Caribbean Cup whether they won or lost by a 3-2 scoreline after 90 minutes. Ultimately the game progressed to extra time and Trevor Thorne scored the golden goal winner for Barbados ensuring a 4-2 victory, and crucially a two goal advantage, which meant that Barbados progressed to the Caribbean Cup. Bizarre!!!
[NOTE: Additional information on the match can be found HERE]
However, the result I think I would have to consider very impressive and memorable was a 2-1 home victory over Costa Rica during the 2002 World Cup qualification. Alas it was the Bajans‘ only win during the semi-final phase of qualifying, but an 89th minute winning goal from Michael Forde gave the Tridents a memorable victory over a team who subsequently qualified for the 2002 World Cup as CONCACAF’s best team during the final phase of qualification. It was even more impressive considering Costa Rica scored first in the 48th minute, before Llewellyn Riley levelled the scores up a minute later.
As a UK-based follower of the team, I also remember Barbados’ 1-1 draw against Northern Ireland in May 2004, with Kenroy Skinner getting the opener in the first half before David Healy spared Norn Iron’s blushes with nineteen minutes remaining. It was the only game Northern Ireland failed to win during their 2004 three-game Caribbean tour!
Q. Likewise, is there a performance or result which is regarded as the team’s lowest point?
As I mentioned previously, the qualification for this summer’s Gold Cup was a bit of a disaster. Obviously the COVID pandemic has hindered a lot of teams recently, but unfortunately it couldn’t really cover up the performance from the last match Barbados played. After winning their Nations League group, Barbados were drawn against the lowest ranked seeded side in Bermuda, with the winner scheduled to face either Haiti or Saint Vincent & the Grenadines in the playoff final, with the winner of that match progressing to the Gold Cup tournament. Considering Barbados has never qualified for the Gold Cup before, there was naturally some excitement for this potential route into the continental tournament, and maybe making their debut appearance within it. There was some confidence that Barbados could perhaps pull off a victory against a Bermuda side who had finished bottom of their League A group. Even though Barbados were the lower seeded side of the two teams, both sides were roughly in the same position within the FIFA World Rankings of around the 160 mark (Barbados in 162nd, Bermuda in 166th).
Unfortunately what happened was an absolute mauling in Fort Lauderdale by the Gombey Warriors. Barbados conceded after just 17 seconds and were subsequently 4-1 down by half-time, before Bermuda scored an additional four unanswered goals to ensure they lost the playoff game 8-1!!! A hugely embarrassing result and defensive performance against a side who could have been considered roughly equal to Barbados, and that they felt they had a chance of victory against before the playoff game. The result was a massive wake-up call for everyone in Barbadian football, and increased the pressure on Russell Latapy, who (to his credit) took full responsibility for the result.
Q. What are the best and worst things about being a fan of the Barbadian national team?
The best thing for me currently is learning about the Barbadian national team. Having been introduced to Barbadian football via my Football Manager football series, it’s been interesting to learn all about the history of the national team and its players. Plus I love the passion of the Bajan Tridents from its supporters – it’s infectious!
Worst thing for me as a follower based in the UK is trying to watch the games. I can never find a live stream for games, which are normally played at very late times in GMT/BST anyway, whilst finding highlights for games (especially friendlies) can be a bit sporadic at times.
Q. Have the fans adopted some kind of unofficial anthem to sing along to before/during/after matches?
Obviously, being based in the UK, I am unaware of any unofficial anthems that are sung during national team games. However, during my research of the Bajan Tridents for my Football Manager series, this song always seem to be suggested by the YouTube algorithm:
Q. Do you have a favourite or iconic shirt from the whole time of the national team?
I really like the current shirts made by Capelli Sports. I love the faded blue stripe on the home shirt, and the yellow fading on the blue away shirt. They’re a simple design but classy looking!
Q. Finally, what are your hopes for the future of the Barbadian national team?
I think like every supporter for their respective national team, the ultimate aim is to see Barbados qualify for the World Cup one day in the future. However, I think a more realistic aim would be for the Bajan Tridents to finally qualify for their debut Gold Cup tournament. After the agony of being so close this summer, it would be superb to see Barbados finally appear in CONCACAF’s flagship event, and then become regular qualifiers for the tournament.
Additionally, I would love to see more players from the island become professional either by getting moves to teams within CONCACAF, or moves to Europe. It would certainly increase the levels and performances of the national team with players competing in more competitive leagues. Hopefully, the country will be able to further utilise the diaspora around the world to acquire further top talented players either playing in the MLS or Europe, to increase the talent levels of the national playing pool. If Jamaica can utilise their diaspora, then why can’t Barbados?
A massive thank you very much to our editor Clint Jones for answering our questions on the Bajan Tridents. Remember you can find their social media accounts in the links at the top of the blogpage.
If you have any comments, suggestions, reactions, or even your own answers to the above questions, please write them in the comments box below. Likewise, you can either email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or send a message to the author @Gareth19801 or the editor @The94thMin on Twitter.