Saturday, April 13, 2024

Frank talk with FIFA officials


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Always on the reporting end, several Barbadian journalists had an opportunity on Wednesday evening to air their views on the local football situation and gave recommendations for taking it forward.

The session was a special FIFA workshop organised by the Barbados Football Association and held at the Hilton Barbados in Needham’s Point, St Michael.

Two of the major worries for the media men were the lack of infrastructure for practitioners to properly carry out their duties at football venues as well as the lack of development opportunities to help players transition from the youth level to the senior national team.

In terms of the development of players, Starcom Network’s Curtis Hinds made it clear that the standard of the game was not improving.

Hinds said he believed the sport was going nowhere because of the major challenge in shifting from the Under-15 and Under-17 division to senior.

He told the FIFA representatives that while there were several academies on the island, none of the young footballers were actually coming through and moving on to the Premier League or the senior national squad.

“No one has really developed. For instance when we had the 2000 World Cup qualifier campaign with Norman Forde and Gregory “Lalu” Goodridge, we made the finals of CONCACAF and all those players are still here. They are 34-35 [year-olds] and many of them are some of the best players in their teams. It is changing a bit with a number of younger players coming in but realistically we can’t be playing a World Cup qualifier game with 34-year-olds and expect to be a challenge. Teams that we would have beaten routinely five years ago . . . if St Vincent come here we in trouble because they have all developed,” he charged.

Former player and freelance football correspondent Renaldo Gilkes was of a similar view, telling the gathering that he believed this gap was the result of people not having anything to gainfully aspire to.

He said: “It is not just football– it is a Barbadian thing across the board. You find youth players in cricket, netball, football and they disappear. I used [football] to gain education but most of the guys who are usually good in football are the guys from the ghetto who are not so much into school. I think what Barbados is missing is that something to aspire to – where do they go next?

“Everybody can’t play in Europe, everybody can’t play in North America so there has to be the mindset of where do we go next after that [keeps them in the game].

Speaking to the issue of scant accommodations for journalists reporting on the game on location, Hinds said that at present many “make do” with what was given to them.

However, he was of the opinion that these venues needed to be properly upgraded.

With respect to the National Stadium in Waterford, he lamented that upgrades for media had been minimal since it was first built.

Additionally, wireless access was a sticking point since at Waterford it was inconsistent and at other football venues it was non-existent. Basic infrastructure needed to be addressed, he said. (SDB Media)


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