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    November 12

  • 07:13 PM

A THORNY ISSUE: Why no interest in Pro League?

ANDI THORNHILL, andithornhill1@gmail.com

Added 19 April 2017

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THE QUESTION has to be asked.

Why would Barbados be used as a hub for the new Caribbean Professional Football League and none of the exhibition games in the inaugural season be played here?

I think that sounds rather unusual when you further consider that Barbados has a franchise.

It’s true that the lack of proper facilities can be an issue, but I haven’t heard that the Usain Bolt Sports Complex can’t be used. In fact, the media launch was held at the university, so we get the impression that there is a relationship there. However, I am not suggesting that the Cave Hill Campus is part of the set-up.

Wait a minute, was the Barbados Football Association (BFA) represented at the launch? No, they weren’t.

I suggest there would have to be more in the mortar than the pestle if they missed such an important, groundbreaking event.

I am even more convinced about this for the fact that BFA president Randy Harris sits on a Caribbean Football Union (CFU) committee looking at ways of boosting professional football in the region.

Not only that, Harris has been at the forefront of drives to implement a semblance of professional football in Barbados in respect of his involvement in such tournaments as the BESS and the Lime Pelican.

Something isn’t right

It was also reported that fewer Bajan players than expected turned up for try-outs held two weeks ago.

What would keep some away from a scheme that could reportedly put a minimum of BDS$6 000 per month in their pockets, especially in cases where some individuals are currently unemployed?

Were they given instructions not to show up? It boggles my mind but reinforces my suspicion that something isn’t right. Perhaps the story will unfold in due course.

In the meantime, I think the concept is a good one because we must try to create professional opportunities for the footballers who may find it difficult to get contracts in Europe, North America and other places where football has a huge following.

Although we may have young players with promise and potential, the gateway to professional football isn’t always easy.

In some instances it depends on how a country rates on the FIFA rankings and if an individual has played 75 per cent of matches for his country during a particular period.

Barbados is now ranked at 172 and we only play a handful of internationals in any given year. If you had to base it on these facts alone, it would be hard for Bajans to get a look in with international clubs of note and may have to seek a relationship with clubs in some of the world’s obscure football posts.

Notwithstanding that, over the years we have managed to get players out for trials in England and other European countries, but they have been in the minority.

We might remember that through a scheme set up by former national coach Kevin Millard in the early 1990s, several players benefited from try-outs in Europe and one of them, Gregory “Lalu” Goodridge became the first home-grown Bajan to play in the English Premier League. He turned out for Queen’s Park Rangers after debuting for third division Torquay United.

That period will also be best remembered for the furious exchanges between Millard and then BFA president George Lascaris whom the public took a stance against because they felt he was trying to take money out of the pockets of players.

It was the alleged principle of how Millard went about doing things that Lascaris questioned. He felt that the process should go through and with the knowledge of the BFA because eventually the buck stopped with them. Not everyone cared about his perspective and it could be that he subsequently lost his job because of this issue.

I will wait to hear the story with the BFA and the leaders of the forthcoming professional league before deciding what went wrong, and if fences can be mended because I believe that the BFA should be an integral part of any process seeking the betterment of footballers.

• Andi Thornhill is a veteran sports journalist. Email andithornhill1@gmail.com

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