BOOTS ON THE BALL!
Jump Ball No. 126. By Arlington James
Boots, the type of footwear worn by footballers and basketballers, is also the nickname of Euclid Bertrand, a proud son of the soil from the cozy little sporting and fishing village of Dublanc that has also carved a name for itself on Dominica's cultural landscape.
Standing at 6ft 4in, considered tall by Dominican standards, this soft-spoken giant, whose Mum is from Mahaut and Dad from Dublanc, is best known as a national footballer who also proudly represented his village in the national football league. But "Boots" also had a short stint in basketball, although not at the national league level.
DUNKING BOOTS: As a young teenager, Euclid played 'street basketball' on old factory ruins in his village, in an area known as Back Stoe. While attending the St. Joseph Secondary School, he represented his alma mater in the Secondary Schools Basketball League, but after only two matches, his coach pulled him off the team, telling Boots, most embarrassingly, that he was too 'skinny'! What Coach!
In Guadeloupe, Bertrand represented the community of Carenage in a SUNKIST 3-on-3 Basketball Competition. Most importantly, he trained with ACS Carenage for a league in France. Unfortunately, however, due to circumstances, he never crossed the Atlantic.
On the court, Bertrand played in Centre and 'Ball-handler positions. At the same time, his two favourite teams in Dominica's national basketball league were Hoyas and then Blazers.
FEATHERS IN BOOTS' FOOTBALL CAP: Euclid, who holds a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies & French from Lindenwood University in Missouri, USA, began his football career playing with Dublanc Primary School in the Sports Division Primary Schools Football League. His next step up the ladder was playing with St. Joseph Secondary School in the Secondary Schools Under-19 League. And with a huge smile across his bearded face, he revealed that he was selected to the Under-19 team upon entering Form I and represented that school at that level for four years; he also represented Goodwill Secondary School for one year.
Boots debuted in the Dominica Football Association National League in the then Division II in 1995, playing with Dublanc Youngsters. Upon their promotion to the Intermediate Division in 1997, the team adopted a new name, Superwoods United, after sponsors Superwoods Ltd. The team later acquired another name, Dublanc, in 2001 while in the Premier Division. In 1997, Euclid helped Superwoods amass 60 goals in 10 matches, occasionally scoring for his team as a midfielder. He also informed that he debuted in the national league while attending secondary school and represented Dominica in football in the Windward Islands Schools Games.
With greys already showing, Euclid has been playing national league football since 1995 and is still active on the field in 2023, playing with and against youngsters less than half his age; currently, he is 48 years old, approaching 49!
Bertrand proudly wore Dominica's colours on the Senior National Football Team from 1997 to 2021, though not continuously, and during his tour of national duty, he played in the following tournaments: Shell Caribbean Cup; Goodwill Tournament (Guyana); Caribbean Football Union Caribbean Cup; CONCACAF Nations Cup; Digicel Cup; Windward Islands Football Tournament; and FIFA World Cup Qualifiers (vs Panama and Canada). He also captained the team on one occasion.
He also represented Dominica in friendly internationals versus Anguilla, Antigua, Barbados, Guadeloupe, Martinique and St. Lucia.
From 2000-2004 Boots attended Lindenwood University on a football scholarship, earning his degree and playing with the university's Lindenwood Lions soccer team.
While in the United States, Euclid also displayed his skills with football clubs such as St. Louis in the USL, Denver Cougars, and Colorado Rapids in the Boulder Rapids Reserve. He also played in Martinique and with London City in the Canadian Professional Soccer League.
Furthermore, Bertrand passed his football genes on to two children. His first son, Dillon, plays in Martinique's League, while the second, Keegan, represents the US Virgin Islands. Notably, while Euclid has quietly hung up his national football boots, he continues performing as player-coach with Dublanc. And he is confident that, God willing, he will keep going until he attains his Golden Jubilee (50). He also coaches the Dublanc Football Academy, assists in coaching the DFA Under-20 and Under-23 teams, and serves as the head coach for the DFA West Coast Zone/District in the association's new national training structure.
And, in case you did not know, four of Euclid's brothers have represented Dublanc, with Celius, Chad and Rasheed going on to represent Dominica!
And when he's not on the field, you will find Boots training, fishing, tour guiding or even construction.
Folks, that's elder statesman Euclid "Boots" Bertrand!