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Coombs defends hosting Windwards Islands Football championships amidst tragedy

Coombs defends hosting Windwards Islands Football championships amidst tragedy

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President of the Windward Islands Football Association, Vincentian Venold Coombs, has defended the decision to go ahead with the revived National Lotteries Authority Windward Islands senior football competition,{{more}} despite the death of two Dominicans, who were on their way to St Vincent and the Grenadines to take part in the tournament.

The two — coach, Kurt Hector and player Norran Jno Hope — were travelling to the Melville Hall airport last Friday morning to meet with the others for the trip here, when the vehicle in which they were travelling plunged into a 100-foot deep opening on the Pond Case Road, as the island experienced heavy rains.

The Dominica Football Association (DFA) then felt it was best to withdraw the team.

Coombs said that he, along with the other three presidents, Cheney Joseph of the Grenada Football Association, Lyndon Cooper of the St Lucia Football Association and DFA president – Glen Etienne, who were in Panama at the time of the tragedy, took the decision to go ahead with the competition.

Coombs told SEARCHLIGHT that while it is a sad time for all concerned, it was not enough to cause the competition to be called off.

“…It was tragic, we sympathise with the families and loved one of those who lost their lives, but it was not one of catastrophic proportion”, Coombs advanced.

Coombs, whose local organisation, the St Vincent and the Grenadines Football Federation is the host entity, further noted that part of the thinking was that a lot had been invested in the competition, and it would be too much of a loss to have it cancelled or even deferred.

The WIFA and SVGFF president said that he had proposed to have the competition shifted to one week later; however, that was not feasible, as the Victoria Park will be unavailable in the next two weeks time, as preparations get in gear for the staging of Vincy Mas.

The revived competition opened as planned last Sunday at the Victoria Park, minus Dominica, but with the inclusion of a St Vincent and the Grenadines President’s XI, who will participate as a fill-in, but will not be eligible to be crowned as winner.

One minute’s silence is being held prior to the commencement of each of the matches, with the teams and officials agreeing to wear black arm bands in sympathy with the Dominicans. The Dominica flag is being flown at half mast at the Victoria Park for the duration of the competition, which climaxes on Thursday. The last WIFA competition was staged in Grenada in 2001, with the host emerging as champion. (RT)

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