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Warner dares Baje to dream

by Ezra Stuart

Warner dares Baje to dream

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BARBADOS must start dreaming of reaching the World Cup finals.
FIFA vice-president Austin “Jack” Warner issued this mandate to local football officials while delivering the feature address at the Barbados Football Association’s (BFA) 100th anniversary gala at the luxurious Crane Beach Resort in St Philip on Saturday night.
Warner, who is also president of CONCACAF and the Caribbean Football Union (CFU), told BFA president Ronald Jones that it was time for Barbados’ football to rise.
He said only last Friday he reiterated to FIFA’s president Sepp Blatter that his dream of a fourth spot for CONCACAF teams at the 2014 World Cup finals in Brazil, should be mandatory.
“That fourth place, president Jones, can be yours. There is nothing preventing the BFA from sharing that vision and for making that dream a reality. There is nothing to stop the BFA from the reality of a World Cup spot,” Warner said
He said reaching the World Cup finals was  “no respector” of a country size or its geography.“Jamaica has done it. Trinidad has done it. Why not Barbados? And this is my challenge to you as you enter the next 100 years of your existence.”
Warner further said the Barbados football fraternity “must dream and dream big.”
“The time has come for the Bajan Pride to etch its name indelibly into the annals of Caribbean football history.
“I’m saying in so many ways, that after 100 years, the time has come for the Bajan Pride to rise,” he added.
He said Barbados has produced Caribbean icons such as Sir Garfield Sobers in cricket, Obadele Thompson in athletics and Alison Hinds in soca.
“So the time has come for us to homegrow our own Lionel Messi right here in Barbados. And to borrow a phrase from President Obama, “I dare say to the Barbados Football Association, ‘Yes, you can’.”
Warner said during the 1970s and 1980s, his native Trinidad and Tobago was afraid of Barbados with the likes of the Goddard brothers, Ricky, Victor and Jerry, Keith Griffith and Victor “Gas” Clarke, and preferred to play against Jamaica; but now the tables have turned.
“That must not last much longer and I’m saying therefore, that must be your vision on the field of play,” noted Warner.
Towards the end of last month, Barbados, who are ranked 121 in the world, lost back- to-back friendly internationals to lightweights Dominica for the first time.
Without making reference to the double defeat, Warner urged the BFA to take Barbados football to a different and higher level.
“As we celebrate, we need to be more aware that the time has now come for us to focus our internal efforts upon specific goals or purposes to give our leaders the direction and meaning that may allow Barbados football to reach the dizzying heights of global excellence,” Warner said.