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Let us all try to save football

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23.NOV.07

Editor: Football friction is making the rounds again. According to an article by Rohan “Roache” Thomas, Friday, November 16, 2007, members of the last executive or their supporters are now crying foul, and are requesting new elections for the Football Federation and to declare the recently concluded ones null and void. This article captioned, “ Who stands to lose?” Well, the nation does.{{more}}

I do not have all the facts regarding the last elections but based on what I have seen between 2003 and now, I do not think that new elections are justified. Football development needs to be viewed through a new set of spectacles.

Let me share some thoughts. Since we have managed to tap FIFA’S financial resources, everyone, it seems, wants to administer football. Now Tom, Dick and Harry want to run football. Each one claiming to be the best administrator available today. Some of the Dicks, with Sinicism, questioned the others about being able to spend a million dollars!

Now, with all the ramblings I have been hearing, no real national plan has really struck me. Save for the mention of installing Astroturf at Campden Park, by the “Major”. Nothing else has ever been said, as far as a plan for national football is concerned.

No one has any plans for upgrading playing fields nation wide. Or at least, no mention was made of any such plans. Nothing was reported of any plans to reintroduce regular FIFA sanctioned Football competitions nation wide. These things are the most fundamental needs of the country right now, as far as Football is concerned.

So please, let us first develop a plan for national football. Football is popular enough to sustain a national initiative for the redevelopment of the sport. We need several first class playing facilities throughout the nation. It is time we get rid of the idea that Football needs “a home.” It already has a home which is called St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Upgrade existing playing areas to meet minimum international standards, especially with regards to the size of the playing area. Construct facilities including changing rooms, with indoor plumbing, for players and officials alike. We need no fewer than 9 such facilities. If possible, enclose these facilities so that they can be revenue generating during the times of competition.

With these facilities in place we can begin to implement programmes that will benefit the entire nation. Not just Kingstown and its environs. We have substantial human resources in the nation to sustain the sport’s development.

Secondly we have to ensure that a very competitive local football competition is reintroduced. Re-establishing a club structure, comparable or superior to the early days of football in St. Vincent and the Grenadines is absolutely necessary. I remember when there was great rivalry between Avenues United and Roseans in the early 70’s. That is the competitiveness that we need in our football once again. Players have to be restricted to playing only for the club that they are affiliated to. Clubs must have control of the movements of their players. We have a “do what you like”, culture that we have to eradicate immediately for the good of the sport and life generally in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Proper club structure and functionality will aide us in accomplishing a very competitive league.

With those two things in place, we can begin to speak about strategy and all the facets of football development. Such things as technical directorship will then have meaning. Right now those things are simply phrases, sound bites, if you will, that we love to speak.

We have invested in the training of local Coaches, who, though qualified, are now sitting idle while out football rots away. We need to utilize their expertise now. So we must structure programmes that will include them. A word to our local coaches: It would be nice to have the job as coach of one of the national selections but remember that there are thousands of youths playing football in St. Vincent and the Grenadines who could use your assistance. So don’t allow your ego to hamper national growth. Give to the youths willingly and you will reap results in abundance.

It is necessary that we decentralize football. We must have parallel development happening throughout the country. For this to take place it means we must have a functioning and effective football association in each area. Feel free to divide the country into areas that will sustain keen competition. This will also justify our having a Football Federation.

It is remarkable how well we are able to do in the region despite the many shortcomings that we have. One does not have to stretch one’s imagination too much when trying to see what we could achieve if we should get all the moving parts, in football, working together.

Therefore, to the persons who have just vacated offices and the new occupants of these offices, I say please put your country first. Take football back to the people; give the youths a productive way to spend their spare time. When we decentralize football, there will be a great need for administrators. Every one of you will be meaning fully contributing to the sport. Don’t be shy to get input from nationals such as Seymour “Rollit” Waldron, Fred, Guy, Dorian, the Morris and Ballantyne brothers and countless others.

Let us put our heads and feet together and save our football. This is an S.O.S. In the name of football.

Charles “Big” Henry
Former National Player

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