Former St Kitts/Nevis National Team player George Isaac is a former professional player with W Connection and Caledonia AIA in the Trinidad and Tobago professional league. He knows what the experience is like of playing in the CONCACAF Champions League and now he's preparing his hometown club Cayon Rockets FC for a similar stage as they get set to contest the inaugural CONCACAF Caribbean Shield in Santiago, Dominican Republic.
Cayon are the reigning St Kitts/Nevis league champions and they are relishing the chance to appear on a level such as the Caribbean Shield which features eleven clubs from eleven member associations within the Caribbean.
"I think it's an ideal opportunity for us to continue our development and push ourselves even further towards becoming a fully professional team. Every player in the Caribbean dreams about playing at a high level or in a proper CONCACAF tournament and we are getting that opportunity with the CONCACAF Caribbean Shield," Isaac said.
"Of course we want to win it and move onto the CONCACAF League but more than that, we think it's a great stage for a club from St Kitts/ If we do well here, it encourages the other clubs back home and it helps overall with the development of the league and then that extends to the national team because players will become better by playing in top quality competitions like this one and our national team can keep on improving," Isaac said.
"I've had the experience of playing at a professional level and now I want to see these guys move on to a higher level. I think doing well and getting accustomed to something of this status will prepare them well for the future," he added.
Cayon Rockets goalkeeper Adolphus Jones will carry the captain's armband for the islanders during the Caribbean Shield and he expects the competition to be stiff but beneficial to his team.
"It's a wonderful experience to participate in a league outside of our country. It's a really great opportunity so we 're looking to doing our best and make it to the next round.
"This here (appearing at the Caribbean Shield) is bigger than us as just one club. It's a big appearance for our country on a whole and hopefully as we are making our way up, the other clubs can follow us and improve our league back home. Then we can hopefully have a better national team and improve our FIFA rankings," Jones stated following his team's training session in Santiago on Thursday.
Cayon forward Carlos Bertie will carry the team's hopes in attack and is hoping to make a strong impression during the competition. Bertie has St Kitts/Nevis national team experience and has also played with El Salvador club Once Municipal.
"This is an exciting time for our club. We are here to win by all means. We know the competition will be of a high level but we are ready for it. The CONCACAF Caribbean Shield is something that clubs like ours can now strive to be part of and then hopefully conquer and move onto bigger competitions like the CONCACAF League and the Champions' League. As a player, we can only develop into better players and become more professional, well rounded individuals who can compete against the best in the region," Bertie said.
The top team from each of the three groups plus the best second placed team will advance to the semi-finals. The winner of the 2018 CONCACAF Caribbean Club Shield, once it fulfills CONCACAF Regional Club Licensing criteria, will have the opportunity to face the fourth-place finisher of the 2018 Caribbean Club Championship in a playoff match, to determine the fourth Caribbean representative in the 2018 Scotiabank CONCACAF League.
The Final of the CONCACAF Caribbean Shield will be played on April 21st at the Estadio Cibao FC in Santiago.