Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Puerto Rico the up and coming regional power
Puerto Rico is one of the up and coming CONCACAF teams. I predict it will be a consistent top 16 CONCACAF team in the near future. I can see them competing for the Caribbean Championship and soon they will enter the Gold Cup (reserved for the top 12 CONCACAF teams presently) frequently. The decision was made not to enter in the 2008 Caribbean Cup because they did not want to extent themselves. Colin Clark the skipper of the national team is also the coach of the Puerto Rico Islanders. The Islanders as you know are presently one of the 8 remaining teams in CONCACAF Champions League. The powers that be decided to increase interest in the sport through the Islanders by concentrating on the Champions league and marketing that.
I see two main factors will contribute to this increase to a regional power. Puerto Rico is a large island in the Caribbean Ocean with a population of about 4 Million. The island is roughly the same population as Costa Rica and Panama. These 4 Million (rounding up) need a national sport they all can take to. Soccer has dominated most of the Caribbean nations as the only sport. Puerto Rico has sports but no one sport dominates. Basketball, baseball, volleyball and Pro boxing have been more popular sport in the past. However times have changed. MLS started in 1996 and has slowly gained in popularity in the US. Since Puerto Ricans are US citizens (however they govern themselves) they have experienced a similar increase in interest in the sport. The Puerto Rico Islanders placed a team in the USA second division and they are very popular. They Islanders are also in the CONCACAF Champions league. This will create more interest for the sport throughout the island this year.
These 3.96 Million have on average $19.600 GDP per year. This is the key to their success. Many other Caribbean countries do not have any where near this spending money. Puerto Rico has one of the most dynamic economies in the Caribbean region. US firms have invested heavily in Puerto Rico since the 1950s. Tourism has traditionally been an important source of income. Compared to other CONCAF nations in Central America and the Caribbean you can see their buying power many Puerto Ricans have. They will have more money to spend on tickets to Soccer games. Other CONCACAF nations field very good teams and with time Puerto Rico should field a quality team that can compete in the Gold Cup.
A new Puerto Rico soccer league is opened in 2008. There will be 8 teams in the Premier Division and they will have relegation. There are a few international clubs that are investing in the league to get in going. This will create even more interest on the Island and through out the Caribbean. Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago should enjoy the success they have on top of the Caribbean because there soon will be a new player to challenge for bragging rights.