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Grand strides for football

RACHELLE AGARD, [email protected]

Grand strides for football

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The Barbados Football Association (BFA) is on a mission to reach the zenith of football in the Caribbean. It is now working towards the construction of an $8 million grandstand, following the recent installation of bleachers on the eastern side, with a maximum capacity of 1 645, and lights at the Wildey AstroTurf.

This was disclosed by general secretary Edwyn Wood during an exclusive interview.

“We have submitted preliminary sketches to the regional FIFA office, and they are aware of our intentions. However what we are applying for is the entire cycle of project funds from 2019 to 2022, which is BDS$8 million, that would allow us to build the grandstand,” he explained.

While the tender for the entire project came in around $13 million, Wood said the BFA went back to the architects and made some adjustments to the plans, which would reduce the cost considerably.

“What we are in the process of doing, is reducing the scope of works to fit into the availability of funds. All the bells and whistles that the tender went out with, we went back to the architect and told him which areas we can reduce on.

“For example we reduced the number of concession stands and boxes.

“We’re positive that we will get the funds. FIFA is always ready and willing to assist associations in getting ahead once they meet the criteria set out, and are organised with the proper proposals in place,” he added.

The three-storeyed grandstand, which would be constructed on the western side of the headquarters, would accommodate up to 3 000 people, and feature four changing rooms for teams, concession areas, referees changing rooms, a room for ball boys, four media rooms, a medical examination room, a drug testing room and wheelchair access and seating.

Pressed as to if the BFA expected many people to attend football, the veteran administrator said he was confident football would see the crowds of yesteryear.

“Since our return to the Turf last month, we have not met the maximum capacity, but from the feedback we’re getting, most people are pleased with what they have seen, so I expect nothing less with the construction of the grandstand,” he said matter-of-factly.

The tender process has been completed and a service provider selected, with construction expected to last for 18 months.

However, Wood declined to disclose the company selected, as the BFA had not yet been informed.

“We have begun the negotiating phase to make sure the project falls within our budgetary limits.

“While construction is ongoing, the Turf will remain operational with entrance restricted on the eastern side, and necessary arrangements made to accommodate all,” he said.

However initial works to resume shortly would include bathrooms facilities on the eastern side.

Meanwhile the facility is earmarked to host the CFU presidents and FIFA officials function later this month, before the official opening of the FIFA Regional Office on May 29. (RA)