Harris the one to beat
By Andi Thornhill | Wed, September 26, 2012 - 12:00 AM
The date is set for at least one election and it should be fireworks on Sunday when the Barbados Football Association (BFA) holds its annual general meeting at Deighton Griffith Secondary School.
Word on the street is that Randy Harris seems to be the man who can unseat president Ronald Jones for the top job.
If this battle emerges, it would be a re-run of their fiercely fought duel back in 2005.
Memories will be sweet for Jones, but very bitter for Harris.
Jones won by a slim four-vote margin, but the result was questioned by Harris’ side and when they failed to get it overturned and have fresh elections, Harris took the matter to court.
In terms of natural justice, he was entitled to do so, but it was in contravention of regulations from the sport’s governing body, FIFA, which prevents such matters from being settled in court.
Harris was banned for four years for his actions and was not allowed to play an official role in any organized football.
He also lost his fight with Jones, as an arbitration panel, headed by retired judge Eliott Belgrave, ruled that the result from the BFA’s annual general meeting should stand.
Attorney-at-law Woodbine Davis and Barbados Workers’ Union boss, Sir Roy Trotman, were the other members of the panel.
Despite the ban, Harris maintained a passionate interest in the sport, lending his administrative skills to the Eden Lodge team and serving as a board member of the National Sports Council.
Truth be told, I have never heard anyone question Harris’ commitment to football since he came on the national scene in the mid-1980s.
He is a former general secretary of the BFA and his alliance with high-profile out-of-season tournaments, including the current LIME Pelican Football Challenge, has made him one of the better known faces in local football.
What else has he got going for him?
He holds a senior management position at his current employers, so we can assume that his human resources skills have been tested in a tough, competitive business environment.
We can also assume that he will bring these skills to the association if elected, although I think he might meet some resistance to his creative ideas for football’s development if by chance some members of the current board are re-elected.
I think his biggest strength lies in the fact that he always has the players’ welfare at heart.
It was his initiative to give players stipends in major out-of-season competitions such as the BESS Tournament and the LIME Pelican.
The organizers of the David Thompson Memorial Classic were wise to follow this lead as it serves as extra motivation for the players to step up a notch.
However, the thing is that players aren’t normally the ones who turn out to vote. It’s their representatives who go to the poll; but left to the players directly, I feel it would be relatively straight forward for Harris to win.
If he has an Achilles heel going into Sunday’s election, it could be his ability to get his supporters out in full to vote and to split Jones’ camp to his advantage.
At the end of the day, the quantum of votes for each candidate will decide who runs things for the next four years.
This is Harris’ best chance to win the coveted prize and he must pull out all of the stops to secure a victory no matter who enters the race.
I mentioned what I thought of Jones’ present tenure and some of the reasons I thought he wasn’t effective two columns ago, so I won’t reheat cold soup, but what I do know is that if he decides to seek his fifth consecutive term he would be no pushover.
He is prepared to come out with his guns blazing.
It would be to his opponents’ detriment to get complacent.
Lots of respect must be given to the fact that he is a professional politician and has proven that he knows how to win general elections. He can still pull a few aces from his conventional experience that the others don’t possess.
That aside, Jones was a youth leader and president of the Barbados Union of Teachers. He has to know a thing or two about campaigning. His opponents must be wary of these things even if they feel he’s on the ropes and good for the count.
I think he should really step aside primarily because of his Cabinet responsibilities, but he will be dangerous in the BFA race unless the clubs are truly serious about change.
We know of Ricky Williams’ interest in the job, but I am getting the feeling on the ground that he will have a lot of work to do to compete with the front-runners.
His ideas are creative and revolutionary, but I sense there’s a disconnect between him and the clubs. If the clubs aren’t with you, you can’t win. Simple as that.
I also expect the long-serving executive member Charles Husbands to run but only in the event that Jones isn’t standing for re-election, as well as football administrator Mark Armstrong.
However, it seems that the presidency is Harris’ to lose against all comers.
• Andi Thornhill is an award-winning freelance sports journalist.
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