GEORGE TOWN, Cayman Islands -- Andrew Bascome is the Bermuda head coach and is probably still celebrating his team’s 3-0 victory over the Cayman Islands at the CONCACAF Under-15 Championship on Friday.
Two of Group A’s most impressive squads met before a capacity at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex in a highly-anticipated encounter that lived up to its advance billing.
Both sides entered with 2-0-0 records. Cayman had straight-forward wins over Sint Maarten 12-0) and the US Virgin Islands (8-0). Bermuda also topped the US Virgin Islands (8-0), but had to battle past the Bahamas, 1-0, in its next game.
A midfielder in the national side from the age of 16, Bascome’s playing career ended at 28 due to a knee injury. He subsequently turned to coaching and now, at 50, Bascome has brought his talented nephew -- Osagi Bascome -- into the Under-15 fold.
“I’m very pleased with Osagi’s development,” he said. “He has many more years to get better physically and he will get better.”
Osagi has been one of the revelations of the CONCACAF competition, scoring in three straight games and demonstrating a level of aptitude beyond his youth.
For the elder Bascome, his love for football and profound commitment to teaching the game is palpable.
“I still have a great passion for the game,” Bascome said, who also coaches the Bermuda senior national team. “I believe I am still a student of the game and try to keep myself humble and not disrespect the opposition.
“I try to gain as much knowledge as possible to provide for the kids. We believe in hard work as well as talent and commitment. And those are the things that are going to make you a good player.”
Bascome has extended his coaching education with spells in France and Spain. He even has his own academy in Bermuda, the ABC Football School. The academy maintains a relationship with Spanish giant Valencia, a club at which Osagi has had an opportunity to train.
The Bascome involvement in football is widespread. Andrew’s brother, David, played professionally in the United States for the Baltimore Blast, while Osagi’s father, Herbie, was a national team player. Many other Bascomes have represented the island at various levels, including Osagi’s four brothers.
Shaun Goater is one of Bermuda’s most accomplished football exports, making his name in the English leagues during 1990s, particularly for Manchester City. Andrew nurtured Goater’s precocious talent and the youngster even lived with him for a while.
The coach sees in Osagi many of the same the characteristics that made The Goat a top performer.
“I think technically, Osagi has good qualities,” Andrew noted. “The physical aspect is something he can add to his game as he grows. He plays midfield, more like a scheming position. He passes well, has good vision and is very committed. A good trainer, doesn’t give any problems and is always willing to take in information as effectively as he can.
“I’m very pleased with his development and proud to be his uncle, of course.”
In order to give the kids a better chance of pursuing a football career, Osagi’s family relocated to Birmingham, England, when he was small. They eventually moved to Spain, where Osagi played for a small Spanish team, following a stint at the Aston Villa academy and a tryout with Stoke City.
He progressed to the Valencia club two years ago, but got injured towards the end of the season, dislocating his knee and missing a year of training
Recently returned to full fitness, Osagi has been working his way back to Valencia by joining a smaller club, Tore Levante.
If he doesn’t make it as a pro, Osagi intends to remain in sport in some capacity.
“I might be a PE (physical education) teacher or something,” he said. “I just have to stay in sports.”
That part of his future is a long way off. Right now, the Bascomes are happy to be in the Cayman Islands and playing in the inaugural CONCACAF Under-15 Championship.
“I think this is a good tournament,” Andrew finished. “It gives exposure to the kids and it also allows them to socialize and make friends. The organization has been very good and I’m enjoying it.”
Who could ask for anything more?