Thursday, April 18, 2024

Harris rising to the task

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SIX?MONTHS?ago it looked as though Randy Harris would struggle to hold on to the presidency of the Barbados Football Association (BFA).
Very little was going right for him and it seemed like just a matter of time before his colleagues would get the chance to boot him out of office.
He surely didn’t win any friends at the last annual general meeting where he was brutally frank about how some members allegedly misused BFA funds and equipment in the past.
None of his predecessors had spoken in such strong terms on such issues in a public forum the way he did. He had some shaking in their boots as he threatened further action against individuals who had erred.
FIFA subsequently ordered a forensic audit into the BFA’s affairs.
Ironically, Harris was reportedly subject to a police investigation following the controversial parting of ways with the association’s former general secretary.
Then, Bajans en masse disapproved of a Canadian being recruited to fill the secretary’s position when there were suitably qualified locals to do the job.
I thought of a brewing palace coup when he was bypassed for the chairmanship of the finance committee, a position presidents duly hold if only out of courtesy.
That snub appeared to be a backlash from the principled position he pledged to take on the association’s financial matters going forward.
There were also reports that certain council members didn’t like his alleged authoritarian style of chairing meetings.
Previously, some clubs even wanted to boycott last season if prize money owed to them wasn’t paid.
So, there was a time when Harris was under tremendous pressure to preserve his own status and to keep some measure of stability within the association.
    Typically, it would appear he has weathered the storm.
    The situation with filling the general secretary’s post is being resolved with the president reporting last week that two Bajans are being considered for the job.
If there’s internal unrest, he’s managed to keep it within the corridors of the association where it belongs.
The season is running smoothly even if a bit too fast in a bid to complete the competitions before the start of the World Cup in June as stipulated by the parent body.
Then again, we shouldn’t forget that Harris is a comeback kid who never succumbs to adversity without a fight. His resilience defies his small stature.
After being banned some years ago for taking the BFA to court, he’s now the leader of the association and his star has started to rise.
If he is loathed by some people because of his uncompromising stance on some issues, he is loved by the big shots in FIFA – the sport’s governing body – for his vision and goodwill.
For instance, Peter Vangent, one of FIFA’s experts on stadia and venues, paid a visit and consequently they have promised to help build a grandstand and administrative offices at Wildey, subject to approval from Town and Country Planning.
It should also be noted that Harris was also selected recently to be part of a regional task force charged with the responsibility of making recommendations for a Caribbean professional football league.
He sits on this committee with luminaries such as Keith Mitchell, Edward Seaga and Shaka Hislop.
The first meeting was held a fortnight ago in Los Angeles.
Just for the record, the president has been performing duties as match commissioner in the CONCACAF region.
I am just emphasising the point that he is highly regarded in those circles and I believe that by extension it should translate into tangible benefits for Barbados’ football.
There’s no evidence to suggest that Harris is in this for selfish gain. His record illustrates unswerving passion and dedication to the game’s development here.
Local football needs a revolution to inspire a whole movement to recognise their worth and to maximise it.
• Andi Thornhill is an experienced, award-winning sports journalist. Email: andithornhill1@gmail.com.

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