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BFA must step up

Andi Thornhill

BFA must step up

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The price?hike in local Premier League football was unsurprising. Enormous pressure to raise the financial stakes was placed on the Barbados Football Association (BFA) after the two lucrative out of season tournaments proved that players could reap handsome rewards.
They were put in a corner and couldn’t simply play dead.
I think they will become even more popular with the players if they offer tangible weekly inducements that would encourage them to raise their standard of play.
It has to be a two-way street. Much should be demanded from those to whom much is given.
In the first instance let me state that I think the BFA has allowed the tail to wag the dog and that’s why they now appear to be in competition for the players’ and spectators’ loyalty with out of season organizers.
The roles of the respective parties must never be confused. At the end of the day, the development of the game resides with the association.
The packages of out of season organizers are merely to add some flair and glitz to the football landscape and help build and in some instances rebuild community spirit.
Of course, their concepts always tempt us into thinking that we can actually develop a professional league that should benefit not only footballers but the overall health of the game.
In my opinion, it is the national association that should take the lead in this respect. We could start with the seniors and at some stage create one for the younger players.
This move will definitely foster a different way of thinking and a different approach to training and performing.
When something becomes your bread and butter you have to become more conscious of standards and performance. Appraisals could decide your level of pay or indeed if you will be going on the breadline.
The professional environment should raise the bar immeasurably in respect of adopting the right habits and decision making.
Quite frankly, this is what makes the major difference between the professional and amateur.
What we see played out in the professional leagues around the world is the climax of every day practice.
It is a job, a lifeline to wealth and being able to enjoy some of the sweets of life.
I don’t think our players would be in any way inferior to others if they get a chance to play football as a way of life and having their passion fed with tangible returns.
For obvious reasons, on economies of scale we wouldn’t expect our players to earn the humongous wages of the world’s top professionals, but they would be able to have a good standard of living.
The other salient point to be considered is that we will perhaps not reach a World Cup unless and until we have a professional league or at best scout for a cadre of players who ply their trade in top class leagues to complement the top domestic players. Part-timers from lower leagues aren’t cutting it.
Let’s not forget Jamaica’s and Trinidad’s route to the World Cups they attended.
So we need to get serious about our football and it must begin with the BFA. There’s no reason why the average lad shouldn’t be growing up in our environment knowing that once they qualify they can earn a living from football much in the same way that cricketers and jockeys do.
It is not beyond the BFA to make it happen but they must embrace the vision before it becomes a reality.
Do they really want it to happen? What are their fears if any? Do they really have the players welfare at heart?
It is a question of logistics and formatting to begin with and then selling the product to sponsors who might find it worthy to partner with the BFA once the association puts a strong enough case for support.
Pelican Services Inc. were able to do just that and we saw the results. If they can do it why not the BFA which is now in its 102nd year as an organization?
I think the organization is very short on self-belief and because of it, they could be sending mixed signals to prospective business partners.
Not only that, I am sure there are people from various walks of life who would be willing to work with the BFA in whatever capacity their talent dictates but they must change their body language.
Look at how parents and friends support the private academies. If there is a sense that you are working to benefit others, there is no shortage of assistance coming your way in return.
I am pleading with the BFA to cease being intimidated by its parental role. You are the root and there is no way that the leaves and branches should appear to be taking the leading role in developing football.
The decision to raise prize money in the Premier League is a knee jerk reaction. I would rather have seen it done as an initiative from an association that understands its role fully.
Even so, the BFA’s biggest purpose is to oversee the development of football at all levels and the size of the purse is only a minute part of its mission.