Pelican – with or without Mia

Andi Thornhill,

Added 05 December 2012

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I was beginning to have my doubts whether a change of Government would have any impact on the continuation of the popular LIME Pelican Football Challenge next year. Those doubts, however, have been erased by chief tournament organizer Mia Mottley who told the media in an interview on the night of the final that the event would continue even if the opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP) wins the next General Election and she becomes a minister. Of course, as a minister of the crown it would be her duty to cut her ties with the fledging tournament in the best interest of accountability and, equally as important, use her time to focus on doing the people’s business exclusively. Naturally, there would be mixed feelings on parting with a developmental project which is close to her heart but it would be the ethical thing to do and Mottley already has her mind set on doing the right thing. I must point out that when Noel Lynch became Minister of Tourism in the last BLP administration he gave up the presidency of the Amateur Athletics Association. So, in any event, there would be an internal precedent for Mottley to follow should similar circumstances arise. I also thought that it was wrong for former Barbados Football Association (BFA) president Ronald Jones to hold that position as a Cabinet minister but he gave it up belatedly just before the association’s last annual general meeting. When the DLP came to power in 2008, Jones got the green light from then Prime Minister, David Thompson, to continue functioning as BFA president. He was also encouraged to do so by former FIFA heavyweight Jack Warner who is also a minister in the Trinidad and Tobago government. Mottley also made the salient point that there are other principals in the LIME Pelican set-up who are more than capable of continuing the project without her involvement. Her reference to the issue that she sees no conflict of interest with BFA president Randy Harris remaining with the tournament is bound to keep the fire burning on what has become a hot sporting topic recently. Last week, former BFA president Lisle Austin, who also served as a senior vice-president of CONCACAF, said he didn’t believe it was right for Harris to wear the two hats simultaneously. It will be up to Harris to make his own decision in his own time even though I sense he will make it very soon as it seems that some members of his executive have a problem with his dual role. Moving on, the question has to be asked: What will be the future of the David Thompson Classic if there’s a new Government? I think it will be sacrificed on the political altar because Owen Arthur, who we presume will be Prime Minister if the BLP wins, doesn’t appear to be a fan of the Classic. With the current Government spending an estimated $600 000 on this event, the Opposition Leader doesn’t think the money can be justified in the present economic climate. This puts him at variance with the DLP’s philosophy of regarding such projects as taking care of the social capital with cost being secondary. Unless Arthur alters his view, whether the economy flourishes or not, this year’s final could be the last under the same format if there is a new Government. I would suggest that the Classic should continue in honour of Thompson, who loved football passionately. It would take a private group, much in the same way as the LIME Pelican has done, to seek investors to help bear the cost of staging it. The only difference is that instead of having it done in constituencies, I foresee it being operated as a parish competition which would greatly shave costs but would, regrettably, reduce the opportunity for many footballers to showcase their skills. I want to suggest, though, that both tournaments have enhanced community life, given footballers a different mirror image of themselves and spectators a chance to ease the stress in harsh economic times. It would be sad to see any of them red-carded if a new regime takes charge. • Andi Thornhill is an experienced award-winning freelance sports journalist.

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