Retired Caribbean-born soccer stars, Randy Samuel and Alex Bunbury, are on a distinguished list of players named to celebrate the Canadian Soccer Association centenary this year.
Two lists of Best XI teams pay tribute to 22 players from 1912 to 1962 and from 1963 to 2012.
Bunbury, who migrated from Guyana at a young age, and Samuel, who was born in Point Fortin, Trinidad, are on the Best XI team from 1963 to 2012.
Samuel grew up in Richmond, British Columbia and was selected by the Vancouver Whitecaps in the 1981 North American Soccer League draft, though he didn’t sign with the club. He started his professional career two years later with the Edmonton Eagles of the Canadian Professional Soccer League and signed with the Whitecaps the following year, but again never played for them.
The tough defender made his international debut for Canada 29 years ago in a 3-1 loss to Honduras. Overall, he won 82 international caps which was a national men’s team record until Paul Stalteri passed it in September 2010. The 14-year national team representative was a member of the Canadian side that won the 1985 Confederation of North, Central American & Caribbean Associations of Soccer (CONCACAF) championship and the 1990 North American Nations Cup. He also participated in all three matches Canada played in the 1986 International Soccer Federation (FIFA) World Cup, which was the only time this country has appeared in the global tournament.
In addition to the Edmonton Eagles, Samuel played for PSV Eindhoven, FC Volendam, Fortuna Sittard, Port Vale, Harstad IL, the Vancouver 86ers, the Hampton Roads Mariners and the Montreal Impact at the club level.
Bunbury represented the Canadian senior team on 66 occasions between 1986 and 1997during which time he netted 16 goals. He participated in 28 World Cup qualifiers and was a member of the team that took part in the 1989 FIFA Futsal World championship.
At the club level, the striker played for the Hamilton Steelers, Toronto Blizzard, Montreal Supra, West Ham United, Kansas City Wizards and Maritimo where he was the Portuguese team’s all-time leading goal scorer in the first division with 59 goals in 165 matches. In his second season in 1994, he captured the Foreign Player of the Year Award.
Bunbury and Samuel were inducted into Canada’s Soccer Hall of Fame in 2006.
And, Guyanese-born Charmaine Hooper will be inducted into the Hall of Fame on Saturday at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel. Hooper turned out for Canada 129 times and scored 71 goals – both national records at the time – in a sterling 20-year career that ended in 2006. She also represented Canada at the 1995, 1999 and 2003 World Cups.
Hooper’s brother, Lyndon, who was inducted last year, and Jamaican-born Kevin Holness will also be inducted on Saturday night as members of the 1989 Francophone Games national men’s team which is going in as the Team of Distinction.
Meanwhile, South Sudan – which secured independence last year – is FIFA’s newest member. The team is eligible to play in qualifiers for the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations and the 2018 World Cup.
“I want to assure you that we are going to follow the statutes and regulations of FIFA and obey the laws of our good game,” said the association’s president, Oliver Benjamin. “In particular, we are still suffering from war, so we promise that we will develop soccer to fight against war, hunger and poverty.”
And, Burundi Soccer Federation president, Lydia Nsekera, is the first female to serve on the executive committee in FIFA’s 108-year history. She and Liberia’s Izetta Wesley are the only two women to have headed an African Soccer Association.
Last Friday, the FIFA Congress ratified Nsekera’s appointment to serve on the association’s top decision-making committee.
BY RON FANFAIR