Home 2002-03 – Arawak Sports
Consisting of some 700 islands jutting out from the coast of Florida into the Atlantic, the Commonwealth of the Bahamas is a major draw for American sun worshippers and often labelled the “east coast Hawaii” due to the huge numbers of US tourists who regularly flock to the country’s miles of pristine, unspoilt beaches, and spoil them. The name is derived from the Spanish “baja mar” meaning “shallow sea,” a reference to the copious sandbanks surrounding the islands which give the water its crystal-clear hue, with the unfortunate side-effect that, on occasion, hordes of bleating, pitiful, bloated creatures are left stranded on the sand, quite unable to move without assistance including whales, manatees and vacationing couples from New Jersey.
Amongst the Bahamian islands lies San Salvador, widely believed to be the very first spot in the New World where a hopelessly lost Christopher Columbus made landfall in 1492. Thinking he had achieved his aim of finding a westward route to spice-rich India, the Genoese halfwit attempted to barter with native Arawak tribes but, finding his requests for some saffron, cardamom, oh, and a lamb biryani with some Bombay aloo falling on deaf ears, promptly enslaved the entire population and shipped them off for some good old fashioned, honest to goodness hard labour. Columbus was a bit of a dick like that.
Centuries later the Bahamas had largely fallen into disrepair, becoming a haven for pirates, thieves, philanderers and other such reprobates who today would probably find their reprehensible behaviour rewarded with a banker’s bonus or a stint in the White House. Around this time the area became the base of operations for notorious scallywag Blackbeard, a man whose fearsome appearance and brutal nature were undercut by a hopeless romantic streak, best demonstrated by a tendency to sign all of his treasure maps with a kiss. These days the country’s population are largely descendants of former slaves from mainland America, whom the British re-homed in the Bahamas after the revolutionary wars. Free from the shackles of slavery, oppression and the daily humiliation of performing menial tasks for cruel masters, many subsequently took up jobs in the burgeoning tourism industry where they can today be found cleaning out the pool, shifting luggage, fetching towels and basically fulfilling the every whim of wealthy, obnoxious American visitors.
The Bahamas national football team are, quite frankly, pretty rubbish. Even though the country is the wealthiest in the West Indies and has a reasonable population (by Caribbean standards) of around 392,000, they’ve rarely risen above the bottom rung of the CONCACAF ladder, most recently receiving an 8-0 aggregate drubbing from tiny Bermuda in the qualifiers for the 2018 World Cup. Since that defeat in March 2015, absolutely no matches – competitive or otherwise – have been arranged, a chronic lack of activity which seems to be a recurring theme throughout Bahamian football history with the national team, as of February 2017, having played just 36 full internationals across 47 years of existence. On the odd occasion when the Bahamas do make it onto the pitch and actually achieve some small measure of success, it’s usually curtailed by some off the field shambles. In 2011 the ‘Baha Boyz’ crushed the neighbouring Turks & Caicos Islands 10-0 over two legs to reach the second stage of the Brazil 2014 preliminaries, only to then be forced into withdrawing when it became glaringly obvious that their new national stadium wasn’t going to be ready in time to host the next round of matches. Prior to this, between 1999-2006, English coach Gary White took the team to an all time FIFA ranking high of 138 only to leave abruptly for Seattle. Yeah, if you can’t persuade us pasty Brits to maintain a job in the Bahamas, you’re in trouble.
I honestly have no earthly idea who Arawak Sports are. Googling the name isn’t especially helpful either as the only present day company going under that moniker appears to be an interior design firm based in New York who, it’s safe to assume, probably don’t manufacture kit for lacklustre Caribbean football teams in their spare time. Whoever they are/were, the name “Arawak” suggests a local brand as this was the name of the natives found on the islands pre-Columbus although, much like the indigenous folk they’re presumably named for, they appear to have vanished from the face of the Earth.
As previously discussed, the Bahamian F.A. aren’t exactly the most reliable when it comes to getting some actual football played. Consequently this smashing light blue shirt probably never got too many airings, especially as most stock photos from around this era show them using the yellow version instead. I was however able to find one very blurry photo from 2006 seemingly showing this shirt in use during a 6-0 defeat against Cuba. Best I could do I’m afraid.