Ricardo Morris has had a full football career and is still striving to be the best that he can be. And while there has been a pause as a result of COVID-19, he intends to hit the Turf this morning and prove that he has what it takes to get him to the next level.
Morris, 27, began his journey when he was about four or five years old in his hometown of Kingsland, Christ Church. As the smallest in the neighborhood he said he always had to find his way around the older boys and so came up “rough”.
The defender officially started playing football when he joined the roster at Christ Church United before joining the team at Christ Church Boys’ and then Parkinson Memorial Secondary. He also played for Gall Hill and Kickstart, the Barbados Defence Force Sports Programme (BDFSP), had a couple of overseas stints in the USA and New Zealand and is now at Weymouth Wales.
“I won the BICO tournament already and I also won the Under-14 Coca Cola League. In the Under-14 competition, I remember playing against Queen’s College on Harrison College pasture, and I remember them scoring and celebrating thinking they had won, but we came from behind and won the game 3-2,” he recalled.
He went on to play at both the Under-20 and Under-23 national levels, where he captained both teams, before joining the crème de la crème of the Barbados Football Association.
“I think we had a better chance at the Under-23 level in Haiti (2014), but I think we were too relaxed going into the tournament. At that point, we were playing really well at senior level and the majority of the players at the senior level were Under-23 players the likes of me, Hadan Holligan, Kemar Headley, Jabarri Chandler, Kishmar Primus and Jomo Harris,” he remembered.
Morris joined the national team as a result of a shortage, or as he puts it “a mistake by some players became an opportunity for me”.
“I went to the National Stadium to watch Barbados play one day. The national team was short of players and I was recommended to play. Somebody told the coach there was a talented youngster up in the stands and they came and got me. Jason Lovell loaned me his gear and the rest, as they say, is history,” he said.
But win, lose or draw, Morris said it was always a pleasure to represent Barbados at the highest level, although he said it had not been a walk in the park playing under Barry Skeete or Jonathan “Jon Jon” Straker. However, he took the lessons and applied them throughout his career.
“Most of the players would have grown up together playing at club level, so playing with them is nothing new. The hardest part of the national team is gelling together, especially with the overseas players. Once the overseas players are friendly and open-minded it makes it a lot easier,” he said.
He said he also took notes from former captain and overseas player Emmerson Boyce.
“He was a good leader on and off the pitch which helped me when I played in New Zealand,” he said.
Never one to sit back and wait for anything to be handed to him, Morris was instrumental in landing himself the opportunity to play in the USA.
“During my early stages in the BDFSP I got up and created my own players' profile, created a video and started emailing clubs. Tulsa Athletic responded but said I would have to fund my way over and they would provide everything else.
“My first year I had a great season and was named in the All-Conference team and that gave me a little power. I got to recommend one other player for the next year, and I recommended Rashad Jules. Within that second year they took care of everything for the both of us,” he said.
His overseas stints at Tulsa and Wairarapa United in New Zealand has given the center back a greater knowledge of the game.
“The attitude towards the game here compared to overseas is different, but I could see it changing tremendously now under Head Coach Russell Latapy. But it takes time and it wouldn’t happen overnight. He’s instilling it bit by bit. Overseas there is no room for error. You have to compete for play which is good and bad,” he said.
With 42 national caps, Morris was looking forward to the 43rd when COVID-19 hit. But as soon as all borders reopened, Morris was hoping to enhance both his national and international career.
“I think we were really confident heading into the game against Guyana and I saw us going forward. I’m not sure where this setback would put us now. I can’t speak about the fitness of anyone, but I think we have to start from number one again.
“Hopefully when we resume training we won’t have to travel the next week like the West Indies team. I am hoping it is not rushed and we can get back into it, and as soon as we get the green light the Premier League will resume so we can get some game time. I think that is key as well going into the Qualifiers to be match fit and not just physically fit,” he said.