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Harris needs united team


Andi Thornhill

Harris needs united team

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Local football?has been poisoned by division for donkey years.
It’s a preoccupation that continues to give the sport a bad name.
Every piece of dirty linen is washed in public and by the time it dries, there’s a whole heap of bad press and naysayers waiting to say “I told you so”.
You can’t blame them if the executive of the Barbados Football Association (BFA) vividly tries to commit administrative suicide non-stop.
The most recent publicized conflict is unfortunate because up until then the association has been able to keep its business behind closed doors although there were the expected tensions between new president Randy Harris and council members who supported former leader Ronald Jones.
Harris may have taken over anticipating a rough ride from Jones loyalists and may have inadvertently created an air of insecurity which in turn may have influenced a particular style of governance that made his detractors uncomfortable.
Consequently, if any traps were set, it appears he could have walked right into their hands. He may have given them reasons to have the last laugh.
Ideally in that situation the president must govern with tact to win over the support of the doubting Thomases even if it is attained grudgingly.
Honestly, Harris did a good job in overseeing a successful domestic season but for a couple of hiccups.
He inherited an organization that couldn’t even reward clubs with prize money won from the previous season nor had a venue to play the Premier League once the National Stadium was unavailable to facilitate the laying of a new track.
It would seem that Harris handled both situations expertly because he got the clubs to accept a portion of their monies and he also turned the Wildey Astro Turf into a venue hundreds flocked to despite certain limitations. So what went wrong?
The genesis of his internal issues may have stemmed from the perception or belief that he didn’t have the stature of Jones who is a Government minister. Therefore, he has to work that much harder to gain the same level of respect we reserve for politicians.
In such circumstances Harris could be hitting his head against the proverbial brick wall as he tried too hard to gain the confidence and unconditional support of the majority.
For sure he cannot be combative but has to be statesmanlike as he attempts to ease his hands out of the lion’s mouth.
Any other approach will see him lose his dream of leading the organization to greater stability and pave a better path for the players.
Harris is still the ideal person to be at the helm of the BFA because I think there’s no one more passionate, sincere and as visionary about the sport than he is.
He has to be at the wheel at this particular juncture to script a new road map for the sport.
The last football revolution was in the mid-60s when Englishman Graham Adams started the mini league that brought hundreds of youth to the fore.
The biggest spin-off was that the league served as a first step as a feeder to the youth teams and subsequently the seniors.
Actually, Harris was also a child of the Adams revolution and he has the perfect opportunity to start another one crafted in his own image.
He has the goodwill for football and that’s the perfect place to start because it brings with it a degree of selflessness which is conducive to development as nothing will ever be considered as too hard in the quest for success.
Still, Harris cannot do it alone. He needs to have a team that will be open to his ideas and vice versa and they need to go forward as a unit like hand and glove.
The time is rife for revolution but how successful can it be if the house is divided? In fact, it may not even get off the ground if there’s no unity.
Any football administrator worth his salt must be looking to conceptualize a professional league in Barbados.
He should have been doing the necessary research about this possibility from the myriad of out-of-season tournaments.
The truth is that the two most popular ones have been well conceived and received but it is counterproductive to court shades of professionalism for six weeks and then be divorced from it for the rest of the year.
I don’t see the benefit of having one foot in and one foot out. We have the dream but we must develop the will to make it a reality.
In time to come I can see Government partnering with bodies such as the BFA in ventures that can create employment for our youth on a full-time basis.
The space for white collar employment is becoming increasingly congested and sport can be a tangible detour.
Harris has the vision and presence to lead this initiative so he shouldn’t let anything stand in his way of achieving this reachable goal.
The rest of the executive must also be cognizant that it is not about personality but the greater good is laying a foundation for all stakeholders to prosper.
Harris versus the rest and vice versa won’t make a difference either.
We genuinely need to put aside differences and kick start the new football revolution in unity.
• Andi Thornhill is an experienced award-winning freelance sports journalist.

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