By Carlena Knight
Head Coach of the Liberta Blackhawks Football Club Rowan ‘Porridge’ Benjamin is calling on the local football governing body, the Antigua and Barbuda Football Association (ABFA), to follow the path taken by the Antigua and Barbuda Cricket Association (ABCA) in their fight to return competitive cricket locally.
It was announced last week that following discussions with Cricket West Indies (CWI), ABCA and the local government that competitive cricket will make its return this year as they gear up to make a bid to host the CWI Super 50 competition next year.
Cabinet confirmed the news last Thursday after the ABCA and CWI indicated the economic loss to the country due to the absence of cricket.
Following that announcement, Sports Minister Darryl Matthew, while speaking on the Good Morning JoJo sports show, indicated that government is now open to reviewing protocols set by other sporting associations, clubs or groups for competitive sports to be played.
This is a 360 degree turn from his initial comments in which he said that, despite any protocols being presented, competitive sports would not return in 2020.
This, Benjamin says, is a path and fight that the ABFA should now take as football also contributes significantly to the nation’s economy especially because the country is expected to host their legs for the upcoming CONCACAF competitions in the first quarter of next year.
“We need to also get an audience with the Cabinet. We are talking about at least over a million plus US dollars that we can afford to pump into the economy. I understand that also 18 thousand will be given to some cricket clubs for infrastructural purposes so over 60 thousand dollars is being dispensed around the country and I am saying the football association should do likewise,” said Benjamin.
He also commended the ABCA President Leon ‘Kuma’ Rodney for his efforts.
“Kuma would have played two masterful strokes that would have opened up the gateway for now cricket to return competitively.
“You see, I was looking at an article by Neto Baptiste where it said ‘Cricket Association Head: Covid-19 pandemic has cost Antigua’ and he was speaking of two million US dollars.
Then, I believe Carlena Knight would have written an article on October 26th which said ‘Cricket top boss has no intention of ending fight to restart cricket’ and now we have heard that cricket has been opened up.
“I am just saying that the football boss needs to look at this because football has quite an amount of monies there just sitting around that needs to be pumped into the economy,” Benjamin added.
He believes that with some effort from the football body they can also see a return in the near future.