$5m boost for football
A financial injection to the tune of $5 million is set to bring major development to football in Barbados over the next three to four years.
This was revealed by Ronald Jones, president of the Barbados Football Association (BFA), in an address during the draft for the LIME Pelican Football Challenge on Sunday evening at the Party Stand on the Harbour Road.
Of that sum, $3.5 million has been secured in a “major sponsorship” deal and a further $1.5 million from parent federation FIFA will be used to develop the BFA’s field and administrative offices at the Garfield Sobers Sports Complex.
Jones announced that the senior Barbados team would be coming out in a new kit for the next FIFA World Cup campaign which was part of the sponsorship package. Although he declined to give full details about the BFA’s partner, he did say the contract had already been signed.
The president stressed it was “major and significant sponsorship for our national football initiatives, and initiatives which will also go down to our Premier League and First Division clubs as well”.
The men’s and women’s national teams will have new kits – replicas will be for sale – and there will also be “enhanced prize monies” for Premier League clubs.
Work has been going full steam at the Wildey ground, to the east of the National Hockey Centre, and the first phase should be completed by the end of September.
“That field at Wildey has cost, through our FIFA support and resources which the BFA over five or so years left in the confines of FIFA, $1.45 to $1.5 million to put down that all-weather field, full-sized FIFA field,” Jones announced.
“So our national teams and occasionally one or two of our games will be at Wildey. That is the first phase of the project.”
Jones said the turf and everything else associated with it landed two weeks ago, and through the Government of Barbados, all of the related duties had been waived. The turf and equipment will be transported to the venue over the next few weeks.
Once that was completed, the second phase of the project, which entails the construction of a technical centre and the BFA’s administration block, would get underway.
The work on this field comes at the time the warm-up games prior to the next FIFA World Cup campaign get underway. With work set to be done on the track, accessing that venue will be a challenge for home games.
During September, Kensington Oval is also off limits, but Jones said he had contacted Minister of Sports Stephen Lashley for permission to play their CONCACAF game against Trinidad and Tobago there.
Jones said big things were happening in football. At the youth level, the BFA was partnering with the Brewster Trust to develop the game. Recently, members of Arsenal Football Club were in Barbados working with coaches, as well as male and female players at the youth level.
“These things are happening dynamically. You are part now of the transformation of the sport. It took a long time. Barbados’ football is 101 years old,” Jones said.
“Sometimes you have to wait quite a long time for development to take place, but it is now that rush for that type of development in football to take place. We might argue that it took a long time, but things only happen at the time that things should happen.”