Brilla to honor Demmin's impact in Saturday's opener
By Ross Dellenger (The Clarion Ledger)
As a child in Trinidad & Tobago, Dwayne Demmin didn't have much of a choice when it came to "futbol," as he still calls it.
He played it. He had to play it. Everybody played it.
A day in the life of 10-year-old Dwayne included soccer before school, when he got to school, during lunch at school and immediately after school.
"There wasn't a day off," Demmin said.
Some 24 years later, not much has changed. Demmin, now a highly successful soccer coach at Madison St. Joseph High, still plays the sport at age 34.
When Brilla Soccer Ministries purchased a franchise in the USL Premier Developmental League in 2007, Mississippi Brilla officials knew who to call first.
"He jumped right in," Mississippi Brilla president Rusty Bryant said.
Demmin begins his third year with the Brilla on Saturday in a 7 p.m. match with the Atlanta Blackhawks at Freedom Ridge Park in Ridgeland.
And this won't be just a normal season opener. It's Dwayne Demmin Night.
Why so much love for Demmin?
Because "Dwayne has had a tremendous impact on soccer in Mississippi," Bryant said.
Demmin came to the United States in 1993 to attend Belhaven on a soccer scholarship.
He's been playing - or coaching - ever since, either for Belhaven, the Trinidad & Tobago national team or, later, professionally in the U.S. minor leagues.
He never made it to Major League Soccer, and he left Mississippi a couple of times to try out for European teams. He was even offered a contract from the Malaysian team, but he turned it down.
Why? "It meant I wouldn't be in Mississippi," Demmin said, "and I wouldn't be able to coach high school."
But coaching couldn't scratch the itch to keep playing. The Brilla, apparently, has.
"Once I found a team close by here like the Brilla, it made everything easy," Demmin said.
As a developmental league team, Brilla can have have only eight players on its 26-man roster who are over 23 years old. The players are not paid, either (Demmin has regained his amateur status).
Most are college players or recent college graduates, honing their skills with their eyes on professional careers.
Demmin's there to help, like a father figure.
"When he steps on the field it's like having a coach on the field," Bryant said.