Nurse questions Puerto Rico FC sacking

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By Rawle Toney

On November 21, Puerto Rico FC, a team owned by NBA Superstar Carmelo Anthony and competes in the  North American Soccer League (NASL), announced that Guyana National Captain Christopher Nurse, along with Conor Agnew, Evans Frimpong, David Lopez, David Meves and Pedro Mendes will not return for the 2017 season.

The Club’s President Tom Payne said “It’s not easy making these decisions regarding the players because they all played a significant role in this, our first ever season as PRFC. We thank them for their efforts and wish them the best as they continue their careers. Our focus moves on to 2017 and building as competitive a team as we possibly can.”

However, Nurse, while thanking the club and the people of Puerto Rico for making him feel welcome, questioned the rationale behind releasing him, given the fact that he had played more minutes than the other players who were cut, and was a regular starter on the team.

Copa Luis Villarejo Campion
Copa Luis Villarejo Campion

“Three years, three trophies. Puerto Rico truly has been a special place for me. Caribbean Football Union Champions (CFU), United States Soccer Division II Champions and Copa Luis Villarejo Campions” Nurse said in a missive posted on his Facebook page.

Nurse, who also played with a broken wrist, clocked 1012 minutes on the pitch last season, as compared to Pedro Mendes (642 minutes), Conor Agnew (184 minutes), Evans Frimpong (115 minutes) and  David López (119 minutes).

“Honesty of the situation is after the racial situation back in August I felt unsupported by the technical team and I made it known. It’s a long story to go into details but after voicing my disappointment, the relations between myself and the staff changed. Standing up for myself as a black athlete not only was I made to feel like I did something wrong, I was made to feel like I was no longer wanted”. Nurse said.

Nurse had reported to the US athorities incharge of the game, of being racially abused by FC Edmonton’s Nicolás Di Biase.

Some messages from Puerto Rico teammates and fans
Some messages from Puerto Rico teammates and fans

According to Nurse, the exact words said to him were ‘Chocha tu madre’, (roughly translated to meaning the genital area of his mother) and ‘Negro de mierda’ which translates to “Black (expletive).”

“Of course they will say this played no part in the decision. But after playing in almost every single game in which I was available throughout the season there was no other reason I could find why they would choose to go in a different direction. When I was fit I started 85% of games” said Nurse.

He continuted “many senior pros, ex professionals, and coaches who had reached out to me at the time, warned me, by confronting race publically in the manor I did in such a aggressive stance, my days in the game would be numbered. It is a topic people run, hide, and brush under the carpet and move on from”.

Nurse, 32, opined that those who speak up or challenge the consensus have consistently silently disappeared, been isolated, ousted, brushed aside and forgotten.

“Of course this was not the first time I have played under the coaching staff, Iam grateful to them for bringing me to Puerto Rico, twice with the Islanders and again with PRFC, but this was the first time the environment had been challenged from a ethics, moral and racial standpoint. Despite the challenges I continued to do my job, work hard, train hard, play hard. It is the only way I know how to compete”.

the Englishman said he was an “important member of the team who turned around a rocky start to get some good results which inevitably secured contract extensions for the staff. You would imagine some loyalty would be shown to one of the pillars of the team. However in this instance we see the ugly ruthless side of the game that can make us despise at times the same game we love so much”.

Nurse said he didnt feel respected as a person, which is important in any work environment to produce your best efforts, and noted that it was definitely stressful both mentally which had a knock on effect physically.

“My intuition was telling me my time in Puerto Rico was over but I was quietly optimistic that if I just kept my head down, worked hard and stayed out of trouble I could earn a new contract. However my intuitions would prove to be correct, you see sometimes history can be the best predictor of the future”.

“Whilst they have thanked me and granted me best wishes, the best show of support and reward for the professionalism, commitment and dedication that I have continued to show throughout the season would have been to offer me a new contract”.

Chris Nurse in action for Puerto Rico FC
Chris Nurse in action for Puerto Rico FC

The Guyana National Captain said he did not want to leave Puerto Rico after achieving so much success on the island with the Islanders and now PRFC’: CONCACAF champions league, and defeating LA Galaxy and Toluca Mexico rank up their as some of his greatest career memories.

In his mind he wanted to be like Alexis and Marco and after playing become part of the foundation of soccer on the island in Puerto Rico and help nurture the next generation of players.

“My mother raised a strong God fearing man, and my God does not sleep. When I look back I am proud of how I stood up and how I conducted myself as a black professional athlete. I did my best and you should believe me when I say you should fear God doing the rest. Who God has blessed no man can curse”.

“Thank you to the fans of Puerto Rico who have continued to support me wherever I have been in my career. I am saddened I was not afforded the opportunity to say goodbye to you guys in person and to leave in this way but you guys will always be like family to me. You looked out and supported me at the times I needed it most. Muchos respetos”.

“Heavy heartedly with a tear in my eye I say goodbye for the last time. It’s been a great time, unforgettable memories, great friendships and I’m thankful for being able to spend 3 years on this beautiful island” Nurse said in his emotional message on the social network.

 

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