Coates Condemns Visa Mishap As Gonsalves Promises Transparency

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ABFA floor member Barbara Coates (right) is with president Everton Gonsalves (center) and general secretary Roohan Hector. (File photo)
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By Neto Baptiste

Antigua and Barbuda Football Association (ABFA) presidential hopeful, Barbara Coates, has condemned as a travesty, the recent forced exit of the country’s under-17 women’s team from the CONCACAF leg of the FIFA World Cup Qualifiers.

Speaking on the Good Morning Jojo Sports Show, Coates said she felt the pain for the young players who learnt at the last minute that they would not be able to compete in the qualifiers.

“The reality is, these are young persons who would have been training for several months. We are in a pandemic and they were looking forward to this opportunity just to be able to get away from the routine and then to hear at the last minute that it is not happening,” she said.

“I know what it is like because in 2017 I was the manager for the under-17 girls and we must admit when we are wrong because from what I have heard, the application was sent in some time in April. So if it was sent in April and the games were supposed to have been held in August then we should have continued along the line and said let’s be ahead of the game because the games were pushed back in October,” she added. 

News broke on the weekend that the team had been forced to pull out of the competition following visa complications.

Coates, who is a floor member on the FA’s executive body, said she only learned of the development via the media as she and others are constantly kept out of the loop.

“I am hearing everything on the radio first, out in the media first and even when the appointments were made, they were out in the media first, so nothing comes to us as executive members. When we were part of the team doing the under-15 in 2018, we made sure we communicated with the executive first so I don’t understand what’s happening,” the administrator said.

“Are we satisfied with what’s happening with our football programme? Are we satisfied with where we are and what are the objectives we need to achieve? Football is bigger than Barbara, it’s bigger than Everton because it’s about our children and what’s coming forward. What are we going to say to them?” she asked.

President of the football association Everton Gonsalves responded quickly, stating that the matter will be discussed during an upcoming executive meeting while denying Coates’ claims that she is not kept in the loop.

“That will come up at our executive meeting where all the facts, not the opinions, will be shared and the whole matter will be discussed. We had an executive meeting two weeks ago and we are having one next week and she [Coates] was at last week’s own. Every executive meeting that we have, all the members are invited. We are having one next week again and all the matters that would have taken place between the time of our last meeting and this upcoming meeting will be canvassed,” he said.

Antigua and Barbuda were scheduled to contest Group D of the qualifiers alongside St Lucia, Guadeloupe and Guyana. St Lucia and Guadeloupe have also pulled out of the qualifiers reportedly for similar reasons.

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