Much to gain
Last Saturday, the St Vincent and the Grenadines Football Federation (SVGFF) and by extension St Vincent and the Grenadines, hosted president of FIFA Gianni Infantino and president of CONCACAF and FIFA vice-president Victor Montagliani.
Along with the two presidents, SVG also welcomed six influential staff members of football administration, namely in the CONCACAF set–up.
Among the six were Nidia Mercado, CONCACAF office of the president protocol coordinator, Marco Leal, CONCACAF chief officer member associations and office of the president, along with Marlon Glean, the FIFA regional development manager for the Caribbean member association.
In as well, as part of the delegation, were Véron Mosengo-Omba, FIFA director of member associations and development – Africa and Caribbean countries; Federico Raviglione, FIFA president’s office and Mattias Grafström, FIFA deputy secretary general.
Whilst some of the six dignitaries would have come to St Vincent and the Grenadines before, it was the first occasion that such a high profile football delegation would have visited St Vincent and the Grenadines on football business in one lot.
Such influential persons got a first-hand look at the state of some of the facilities here, rather than simply reading reports sent to them and viewing photos.
They may have had little time here, but enough to make a healthy impression of what St Vincent and the Grenadines has to offer, other than football.
Over the years, St Vincent and the Grenadines Football Federation, through its affiliation to the regional and international bodies, CONCACAF and FIFA, respectively, has received significant injections of finance into the St Vincent and the Grenadines’ economy.
This, has come through direct as well as indirect contributions towards human and infrastructural development.
But coming out of the visit, were some renewed assurances which St Vincent and the Grenadines will be the beneficiary.
It was reiterated that FIFA will fund the lighting of some playing fields, assist in the refurbishing of some playing fields, inclusive of putting down artificial surfaces.
Additionally, FIFA reportedly gave the commitment of assisting with the building of the long awaited international standard type arena, where football can be played.
Such help in the improvement of the sporting infrastructure here, should be confirmation, as before we would have heard such pronouncements and promises from local football officials, but not directly from who has the authority to make these structures a reality.
The rest is left in the hands of the other stakeholders, the SVGFF and the government of St Vincent and the Grenadines, to crystalise and make the necessary documentations legal.
Once to fruition, these developments would surely take some of the burden off government’s obligations to provide sporting facilities.
Infantino, in one of his comments last Saturday, summed it up aptly.
“It is rather essential that soccer (football) growth strikes ahead in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, notably with the development and additional growth of current soccer services and funding in new infrastructures throughout the nation, in full settlement and cooperation with the native authorities. This may increase participation and have a constructive knock-on impact on the neighbourhood, because of the essential social function performed by soccer,” stated the FIFA President.
But in some way, the prospects of all these happenings for St Vincent and the Grenadines, did not seem to brighten the eyes of those who have the final say in what can and cannot be done.
One got the impression too, that there was some indifference of the visit of the major decision-making members of FIFA and CONCACAF.
Is it that the government officials are guarded by some reservations about FIFA, hence, do not want to stick their necks out and go full throttle with the advances of assistance?
Or is it that the government has other partners with which it prefers to forge relationships, other than FIFA?
But this column is not suggesting though, that St Vincent and the Grenadines must be sold out blindly to whoever comes with offers of help, especially those which uplift our sporting asset base.
Hopefully, we can see the light of day soonest, and make the promises of CONCACAF and FIFA certainties.