For Bermuda international Dante Leverock, 2016 has been a rewarding year.
Although his club Harrisburg City Islanders finished 10th in the USL Eastern Conference and missed out on the playoffs, the 6-foot-4 defender believes the campaign contained many positives.
“This season was a slow start for me,” the 24-year-old told CONCACAF.com. “I was not getting much playing time. It was a bit frustrating, but I ensured that I worked harder and slowly, but surely, I got more minutes. The more playing time I got, I was able to be more confident and we ended the season strongly with only one loss in our last seven games. For me, 2016 was a stepping stone.”
Leverock, whose cousin Dwayne Leverock competed for Bermuda in the 2007 Cricket World Cup, appeared in 19 games for the Islanders and scored one goal. His football career was launched in 2011 with the Dandy Town Hornets, before joining England’s Staines Town FC in a role opposite to the one he currently plays.
“Since I was a teenager until my first few months in England, I was a striker,” said Leverock. “However, the coach saw my size and asked me if I ever played in defence (center back). I said no and we gave it a try. After a few games, I agreed that this was the right position for me.
“I felt comfortable and in England they like players of my size and caliber in defence with strength, so for me, it is a position I like to play. Now in the States, I feel I am starting to really advance with my performances in defense.”
A 2-0 win over Grenada on March 6, 2015, marked Leverock’s Bermuda debut. Less than three weeks later, he scored the first goal as the Gombey Warriors kicked off their 2018 World Cup Qualifying campaign with a 5-0 win at the Bahamas.
Although Bermuda was eliminated from Russia 2018 contention after being edged by Guatemala in the second round, 1-0 on aggregate, Leverock believes his nation’s footballing future is bright.
“I feel once we continue to get more players into England and the USA, we will continue to thrive and be a threat in CFU and CONCACAF,” he expressed. “In World Cup Qualifying, the 0-0 draw versus Guatemala in Guatemala was my best game. I believe we showed the region what we are capable of. Unfortunately, we lost the home leg, but I do feel we have exciting things ahead for football in Bermuda and the national team.”
The step next will come next year, when Bermuda competes in the CONCACAF Under-20 Championship for the first time since 1988.
“I played for the U-20 team and never qualified for the CONCACAF U-20 tournament,” finished Leverock. “This shows what we can do. I am proud of them and wish them all the best in Costa Rica next year. I am sure they will make Bermuda proud.”
Just like Leverock is doing right now.