WELLFLEET — Sunday mornings on the Outer Cape are, for many people, about relaxing at home or enjoying a leisurely walk on the shore. But for some 20 Jamaicans, Sunday mornings are a sacred time for soccer at Baker’s Field in Wellfleet.
“We always look forward to Sunday morning,” said Burchelle Edwards last Sunday. Edwards was a little out of breath, but he had a smile on his face that showed his love for the two hours of play he and his friends, who all live or work on the Outer Cape, get each weekend.
The guys begin showing up at 7:30 a.m. and usually play until 9:30 with no break in the action. They’re there to have fun, but “it’s always competitive,” Edwards said.
The skill of these players is on conspicuous display. They hustle to the ball, physically challenge their opponents, and communicate the entire time. It’s casual, yet serious.
There’s still time for a laugh when Edwards misses a shot on a wide-open goal, or when the keeper of one team kicks the ball at an opposing player by accident and it ricochets in for a goal.
Edwards, originally from Jamaica, has been living and working on the Cape for about 10 years. He currently lives in Wellfleet and works for the Wellfleet Shellfish Company. He said that, for as long as he can remember, Baker’s Field has been home to pick-up soccer matches every Sunday morning, weather permitting.
Cricket is the national sport of Jamaica, but soccer is also extremely popular and many of the Jamaicans that come to the Cape are experienced players. Edwards is in his 40s, but the range of ages on the field was 20s to at least one 50-year-old.
Last Sunday’s game evolved as more players showed up. At 8 a.m., it was a five-on-five match, but as the morning went on they had enough to play eight-on-eight. The field seemed to become wider with more players, but the goal nets they use, roughly four feet tall and five feet wide, make scoring difficult with a keeper standing in front. These guys are good, though, and they find the openings.
Tony Conte, who in 2010 founded the Wellfleet Breakers Soccer Club that competes in the Cape Cod Soccer League (CCSL), knows the Sunday morning soccer sessions well. They are one reason he founded the local club.
“A lot of local kids kept seeing me and knew that I had played,” Conte said. He played high school soccer in Connecticut and then Division I ball at Providence College.
“I was a captain and had a really good career there,” he said. “It was a great opportunity to play DI soccer in the ’80s.”
Conte, who lives in Wellfleet, moved to the Cape in the late 1980s. A friend from college introduced him to the Chatham Fog of the CCSL. The league, founded in 1971, marks its 50th anniversary this year.
In the late 2000s, some Wellfleet players, including Jamaicans who played on Sundays, were interested in getting a team together. Conte made it happen. The Breakers played their first five years at Baker’s Field, with help from the Wellfleet Recreation Dept. and sponsors like the Flying Fish Café and Newcomb Hollow Shop.
The team later moved its home games to the turf field at Nauset Regional High School in Eastham, where league competitor Nauset Storm also plays. The CCSL includes the Storm, Breakers, Harwich Blues, Sandwich Knights, Mid-Cape United, and a new club called the AC Independence. The season runs from mid-June through early August. Each team has local sponsors that pay for jerseys.
The ages of players in the league ranges from 17 to mid-30s, Conte said. This season, the Breakers are a mix of former and current Nauset and Monomoy soccer players, as well as mostly local and a few not-so-local Jamaican players. Conte said that the team’s central midfielder Joseph Leon, is from Dennis and also plays for a semi-professional team based in Boston.
Keith Clark, the boys soccer coach at Monomoy Regional High School, stepped in to be the Breakers manager this season, while Conte acts as general manager. Clark brought along some talented players from the Monomoy program.
“It’s actually a pretty cool, diverse culture,” Conte said. “The Nauset kids see this kind of meshing of the culture. On the pitch, it’s all good. One of the things we stress is communication. Share the ball and defend.”
Conte said it’s a great chance for younger players to develop their skills and for older players to continue to compete in an organized fashion.
The Breakers are relatively new to the league, and it took a few years for the team to be competitive against established teams like the Storm or Harwich Blues. The Blues, currently undefeated, are the reigning champions.
“They are a very strong team of mostly Brazilian players,” Conte said.
In 2019, the Breakers reached the playoff semifinals. This year, the squad has been holding steady, with a record of four wins and four losses. Their most recent game was a 3-1 loss to the Nauset Storm (6-2) on July 25.
Conte said he’s seen increased interest from players this season, since the league did not compete last summer due to the coronavirus. “The demand is as high as it’s ever been,” he said. “Our rosters are full.”
The team with the best record at the end of the regular season is awarded the Davis Cup and then the league hosts its playoff tournament. The top two teams in the league are given a first-round bye while the other four teams face each other based on regular season records in a single elimination round. The last remaining team is crowned champion.
As the playoffs are set to begin, the Breakers have earned a home quarterfinal match against the AC Independence on Sunday, August 1.
Visit @wellfleetbreakers on Facebook for more information on the club.