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Wrong road, BFA!

Andi Thornhill

Wrong road, BFA!

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The notion?of the Barbados Football Association (BFA) not sanctioning two popular and successful out-of-season tournaments this year is ludicrous.
Somebody tell me I am dreaming because I can’t believe that association president Ronald Jones uttered such words at the BFA’s recent awards ceremony.
Tell me that Jones was misquoted, otherwise it is totally illogical that any community-minded organization would want to red-card what to the mind of many was a progressive step for the sport last year.
Never before was there so much widespread support for football in Barbados from right across the board. The tournaments were a watershed in helping to change negative perceptions of football.
It also helped the players to take greater responsibility for their actions and forced them to recognize that the onus was on them to project a positive image of themselves and raise their self-esteem.
In most people’s estimation, personal development scored big in both tournaments.
Nobody realistically (except maybe Jones) expected that the standard of play would improve substantially in six weeks simply because there were unprecedented purses for the tournaments.
Therefore, to use this as a prime reason to block them from playing seems to be a red herring.
In fact, it may also be a case of sour grapes because the BFA was upstaged, for in over 100 years as a body they weren’t able to command the level of mass support and goodwill exhibited in the LIME Pelican and the David Thompson Memorial Classic which was organized by the Government in which Jones serves as a Cabinet minister.
In fact, we could safely say that the success of the tournaments forced the BFA to increase prize money in the Premier League.
So, to hear the president say that more money will not guarantee better quality is very contradictory.
Why, then, is the BFA paying out more money to the same players in the Premiership after infering that they were below par in the out of seasons?
Not only that, Jones must be reminded that under his leadership, Barbados’ team turned in their poorest performance ever in a World Cup qualifier, losing all six preliminary games in the first round.
The question therefore, about the standard of play was a major factor before the out of season tournaments.
I see this as a case of the BFA president putting his foot in his mouth.
Trying to pass the buck on standards is a poor move because, as stated before, it is the association that is responsible for all forms of development not any other entity.
I would like to suggest too, that there might be an element of raw politics in Jones’ assertion that the greenlight will not be given for the tournaments.
All things considered, the issue would have been an explosive political football in the midst of the expected silly season in the lead-up to the next election.
In essence, if the Government isn’t having a tournament to attract mass appeal why should the LIME Pelican, which many put a Barbados Labour Party face to because of Mia Mottley’s lead role, be used to garner support for the opposition?
If my reading of the situation is correct, it could backfire on the Government because it could be interpreted by the footballers that they are being deprived of making some extra cash in harsh economic times.
It would be a gross miscalculation because the players have extended families and any move to curtail the out-of-season tournaments will prevent vendors and other small businesses from earning an income.
Besides, no caring Government should be projecting the image at election time, in particular, that they want to take food off the table of any sector of its constituents.
It is debatable whether any of the two tournaments deliberately courted political motives but from a public perspective it didn’t really matter because they saw it, even if naively, as an opportunity to boost football in Barbados and to give the players a decent payday by our normal standards.
So football turned out to be a huge winner and that’s all that counts.
Any attempt to banish such progressive gains is not worthy of an association which should be embracing rather than dismantling models that can contribute to the growth of the sport and by extension add to their laurels.
• Andi Thornhill is an experienced award-winning freelance sports journalist.