EDITORIAL: BFA’s business goal welcome
At long last the Barbados Football Association (BFA) seems to be putting meaningful plans in place to promote the sport.
As the country searches for alternative economic avenues, the possibilities available through the sport industry ought to be fully exploited. It is about time.
For some time now the local football association has been out of step with both players and spectators and it has been left to entrepreneurs and even a Government agency to lead the way with the LIME Pelican and David Thompson Memorial Constituency Councils Classic competitions. Both have been overwhelming successes, even if merely from team and crowd participation perspectives.
So the news this week that FIFA has given its blessing to an income-generating project organised by the BFA is most welcome. The emphasis now must be on ensuring that it is executed in a timely manner.
However, what is very noteworthy is that FIFA’s involvement with the local association will have a heavy governance component. Given the scandalous reports associated with some former CONCACAF and FIFA officials in the Caribbean, it is understandable that transparency and accountability will be key factors.
In the future this emphasis on openness will not be unique to the BFA or any regional association affiliated to FIFA, but will be a requirement of all national sport associations, clubs and umbrella bodies. Sport is no longer a purely recreational activity but a sector which commands billions of dollars. It must be treated like the big business it truly is.
PricewaterhouseCoopers in its outlook for the global sports market to 2015 predicts that revenues will grow to US$145.3 billion over the period 2010 to 2015, at an annual compound growth rate of 3.7 per cent. We need to exploit some of these business opportunities.
Former director of sport Erskine King, now retired and without any muzzle, made the salient point of the need for quality leadership in sport while addressing the Barbados Cricket Association’s recent annual awards ceremony. He made the telling point that our sports administrators must display vision and understand their mission.
Two sporting associations here – cricket and horse racing – generate jobs and are operated as serious businesses, but they still have room for major improvement. Motor sports and football, among others, also offer the same potential.
However, this means the habit of developing sporting groups purely on the reliance of volunteers can no longer obtain. Effective sport management must be instituted using a corps of professionals to set up the structure and functionality of a Barbados sports industry. This is where the CWC 2007 Legacy initiative should have laid a firm foundation. It simply did not.
But the ethos of sport – amateur and professional – teaches valuable lessons in a work-oriented society such as Barbados. So, even in times of despair we should remember that effort leads to victory. Sport also discourages negativity; it rewards self-discipline.