No red card
Long-serving president of the Barbados Football Association (BFA), Ronald Jones, is staying on the field of play.
And Opposition Leader Owen Arthur can tackle him, but he isn’t a referee who can red-card him.
“Football should be seen as a non-partisan sport. It is a sport that is extremely popular the world over.
“Millions of people are involved in it, but in a small society like Barbados or any of the countries of the Caribbean, there is a belief you can push aside persons if they are in Government or governance,” Jones told NATIONSPORT in a wide-ranging interview following yesterday’s opening of the 2012 BFA season at the National Stadium.
“I believe in the concept of voluntary service. It has always been with me from the time I was 15 and four decades hence, I have no intention of stepping aside or stepping back.
“At the same time, democracy must work. One doesn’t call oneself to higher service. You are called by the people to higher service and if for that matter, the Leader of the Opposition believes that my presence in the Football Association or within an NGO or a community-based organization is a threat, then he has to demonstrate why it is a threat,” added Jones, who has held the BFA’s top post for the past 12 years.
“First, I have not heard any complaints about my own performance at the level of governance. Obviously, there has been some complaints at my level of football and of course generally.”
Jones said he was well aware that there would be policy biases from individuals within in BFA, which he can accept.
“But it is unfortunate that when the Leader of the Opposition and many others in the community should be volunteering, even if it is an hour a week, three hours a month to help the young people of Barbados, that they are not doing that,” Jones lamented.
Jones maintained that he had been able to function as a Government minister and the BFA boss by scheduling his time appropriately in order to carry out his various tasks.
“Therefore I saw his [Arthur’s] concerns as contradictory. We cannot talk about voluntary work and how many people are stepping aside from it and then because you are in Parliament or because you are in Cabinet, that those persons should step aside,” Jones pointed out.
“Now if my position was one which was unethical, then I would not have supported it. The Government is not involved in football [administration] and I don’t think Government is involved in [the administration of] any sport in Barbados because international bodies have always asked that partisan political control be not a part of that institution and very strongly so in football and I observe that,” he said.
He also noted many leaders of football federations throughout the world came from higher echelons of Government.
Jones also pointed out that only last year, a member of the Opposition Barbados Labour Party was fully involved in the running of a football tournament and according to him, had been involved in former years, working with the youth.
“I see Hamilton Lashley [Member of Parliament for St Michael South-East] involved in football and cricket, bringing all kinds of teams to Barbados, helping develop young people, helping to develop the various sports and helping to bring young people to a sense of their own personal balance, and if you can do that, why spend only your time concentrating only on the issues of national governance,” Jones purported.
“I have to take some personal decisions relative to my participation in any activity across Barbados and I want to say to all persons, come forward and serve the youth of the country,” the Minister of Education and Human Resources said.