By Neto Baptiste
President of the Antigua and Barbuda Athletics Association (ABAA), Everton Cornelius, has responded to calls from coach and former national athlete Evans Jones, to set a date for the elections what are constitutionally due this year.
Cornelius, who had previously said that clubs must first get their houses in order before an election could be held, reminded Jones that member clubs play a pivotal role in the development of athletes and must first become structured and regularised before any elections could be held.
“It’s not because Jawakie’s club may be registered and they are ok so we should just call the election because it’s not any one club that is going to do it [vote]. We have several people there who say that they have clubs and they have to get regularised. They have to understand that they are an intricate part of athletics in Antigua. They are the clubs, they are the ones that produce athletes, we administer the sport; you can’t administer nothing, you must administer something,” he said.
“They need to organise themselves and they need to come to that realisation because people would come to the athletics association saying that they want to travel to St Lucia or that they want us to pay for X amount of athletes and your club is not even properly organised,” he added.
Jones, who is a member and coach of Panthers International Elite Track Club, accused Cornelius of scapegoating the clubs and that the correct procedure would be to first name a date for the elections and instruct clubs that if they fail to regularise their status before the date then they would not be allowed to vote.
Cornelius, himself a former national athlete, said although this has been done in the past, clubs seemingly think that the only time they need to be in good standings is when voting time comes around. This according to the president, must not be allowed to continue.
“This is something we have been doing over the years in terms of just saying that we are going to have the elections and all kinds of people come out of the woodwork, and I am saying that no association can really develop properly that way, and people must be committed to the organisation if we are going to make meaningful impact on the sport,” he said.
“This is the real reason why we go up or we go down, and you would find that one year we may have 20 athletes but the next year we have 15, or it goes down to four or five and then we go back up and this is because there is no consistency in the organisation of the clubs,” the president added.
Cornelius has said that elections will not be held before 2021. He pointed to both the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and the un-organised state of some clubs as the main reasons.