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THE BARBADOS Defence Force (BDF) Sports Programme (BDFSP) has finally appointed a new football coach to replace the long-serving Kevin Millard. Former St Leonard’s Boys’ physical education teacher, Asquith Hamlett-Howell has landed the widely-sought job, which had been vacant since the last football season following the retirement of Millard, who has since returned to his native England. BDF’s sports coordinator Michael Jules confirmed yesterday that Hamlett-Howell took up the position from November 1 and had already been making “a tremendous impact”. Jules said Hamlett-Howell, who is also a national under-17 coach and was assistant senior team coach to Thomas Jordan during last year’s unsuccessful Digicel Caribbean Cup campaign in St Vincent, was hired on a three-year contract. “We looked at his track record, experience and qualifications and we also spoke to the BFA (Barbados Football Association), who gave us a set of names of people, whom they felt would be worthy candidates as far as the development of football at the national level,” Jules said. “From the interviews, we conducted. He was the best of the candidates and got the job,” added Jules. Hamlett-Howell, who has coached St Leonard’s to a number of titles at all age group levels of secondary schools’ football, joins the BDF sports programme at a time when there is uncertainty surrounding the team’s participation in the BFA’s Premier League. Last season the BDF team, citing the inability to sustain a competitive team because of injuries, prematurely withdrew from the Premiership after losing four of their six matches.The BFA’s Disciplinary Committee subsequently suspended the BDF’s Premier League team for two years for breaching rule 7C and rule 8A of the tournament rules by withdrawing from the competition without permission but indicated the players weren’t responsible for the decision to withdraw. However, Jules said they recently met with the BFA to be updated on the situation. “We are awaiting word from the BFA on the status of the sports programme’s footballers. The meeting was cordial and frank and everyone agreed that they are working for the same cause to get the best possible players to represent Barbados,” Jules said. “From the inception, the BDF sports programme was supposed to play as a development team and was not supposed to be relegated, so we have to work closely and hand-in-hand with the BFA,” he said. “We also want to be on the same page as all the national federations. At the end of the day, the nucleus of all Barbados teams should come from within the sports programme,” Jules added. The former manager of the National Stadium also revealed that the BDF was now in the process of recruiting new players to join the football programmes as between six to eight footballers would come to the end of their stint in February.National vice-captain Barry Skeete and fellow six-footer Greg Belle are no longer in the BDF’s programme. Last October the BDF footballers participated in the CISM Continental Championship in Suriname but failed to qualify for the World Military Games which will be held in Brazil later this year.