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Time for BFA to retool

Andi Thornhill

Time for BFA to retool

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Youth is the way forward and the Barbados Football Association (BFA) must be mindful of this as we put the current World Cup campaign behind us.
The old guard has served as well as can be expected under the circumstances but now is the time to build our national team around the future stars.
My main hope going forward is that the BFA will put the right structure in place that would at least give the team the chance to be competitive.
Things as they are only allow us to make up numbers; to be part of the competition only because the sport’s governing body, FIFA, makes it mandatory for its members to participate.
Now in its 101st year, the association must understand that it cannot continue to do things in the same old way that had given us neglible success.
The true reflection of our current state of play can be measured by the fact that islands like Grenada, St Kitts and Guyana have superceded us in the regional ranks whereas back in the day, any of the three could expect to be humbled by any Bajan team they tackled.
I vividly recall the days when there was only Trinidad and Tobago ahead of us in the English-speaking Caribbean and we engaged them in some riveting derbies which were usually close and could have gone either way in many instances.
Since then the Trinidadians have qualified for a World Cup and Jamaica as well.
Yes, they had the necessary structures in place to make that happen and that’s what we must aspire to do or we will continue to waste time.
I don’t think, like some pundits do, we should continue to dwell on the fact that both countries got an extra push under the Jack Warner regime.
If this was the case to our disadvantage and others, you would have to wonder why we continued to be so loyal to him when he was in his element as a FIFA vice-president.
Beyond that, we must shoulder a lot of the blame for not making the strides we would expect in keeping with our footballing maturity.
We can’t blame Warner for not having our own field after being an association that’s more than 100 years old.
We can’t blame him for the fact that we seem to have a very poor system in place to identify foreign players of Barbadian descent who could help bolster our line-up.
In the past nine years we have been able to source the likes of Emmerson Boyce, Louis Moss, Jonathan Forte, Jonathan Nurse, and Paul Ifill consistently.
There must be many more. How can all the other islands do it successfully and we can’t? Something must be wrong if we don’t even possess the will to recruit more footballers of substance.
Lest we forget, that was a key element that got Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica to the World Cup and even though they have only gotten to the second round of the present campaign so far.
Am I to assume that we aren’t as serious as countries like those and we still like to see ourselves as leaders in the Caribbean.
I deduce that this might be an instance of an association making sport at sport.
If I am right, and I hope I am not, it will be counter-productive to all the developmental structures needed to make any impact on the regional scene, far less the world.
Still, I am an eternal optimist and I believe we have the human resources who can chart the new path unless it’s a case of needing new faces on the association’s executive who will bring new ideas and won’t be seen to be procrastinating on essentials that could assist in helping us to grow.
The situation is very volatile and I would suggest that if some of the administrators know they have nothing more to offer they should step aside instead of hanging on only to be enemies of development.
There is cliqueism in our system and I have my doubts whether there will be any changes to the executive at the next annual general meeting.
But the soul searching must begin forthwith as we plan for the qualifiers in the 2018 World Cup.