By Neto Baptiste
Despite facing some criticism over a decision to turn away at least two academies that tried to register past the stipulated deadline, head of the football arm within the CPTSA Wings Sports Club, Barbara Coates, has labelled the ninth edition of the Wings Youth Football Festival a success.
Speaking on the Good Morning Jojo Sports Show, Coates said that 13 teams took part in the event which drew the attention of at least one national youth coach.
“One [good thing] is that a national coach said this was really good, because he [saw] four more players for under-15 that he wants to come to the practices for the national team. I personally think it was a good thing. I know that the Wings Sports Club is very happy about this event and how it was executed this year. I would ask persons to simply look at deadlines because we’re trying to make these things professional; we’re trying to make sure we understand what the rules and regulations are [and] not to hinder anybody or [prevent] any team [from taking] part,” she said.
Coates — who will be challenging the sitting president of the Antigua and Barbuda Football Association (ABFA) Everton Gonsalves when the body hosts its electoral congress on April 25 — however debunked claims there were nefarious motives behind the decision not to accept late registrations from two academies, namely Villa Lions and Northern Patriots.
“The last time we held the tournament was in 2019 and Lukie [Lucaso Brumant] said ‘listen, we can’t have registration on the day because it looks very disorganised.’ [So} we have to make sure we do this thing the right way, because [previously] people would come and want to be registered, and poor Lukie has to be the one to make sure teams are there and they are playing games,” she said.
“Sometimes, you do that — where someone collects the registration on the day and teams would come back and say, ‘we never played a game in the first round and you already gone to the second round’. So we made that determination as an executive that we simply cannot do that because we want to make sure the tournament has quality. It’s not just the number of persons who are playing,” the ABFA presidential hopeful said.
Reports are that both academies tried to register on Saturday following the competition’s opening ceremony at the ABFA’s technical and training facility in Paynters but were told they had missed the deadline.
One member of the Villa Lions Soccer Academy, Neil Cochrane, opined that the communication between Coates and the teams regarding registration was inefficient.
“For the last six years we have not pre-registered but we would have shown up on the day and we would have registered then and paid our fees. I fully understand if you want to change the process but that requires communication, not just communication by sending out a document or a flyer.
“So, when you are going to challenge somebody on the issue of communication and the standard of communication, you have to come better than them. When you are an organiser, the onus is upon you to make sure you exhaust all levels of communication,” he said.
Tamo FC captured the under-9 division of the tournament while North Coast FC were crowned champions in both the under-7 and under-11 categories. Earthquake took top honours in the under-13 and under-15 divisions, with CPTSA Wings lifting the under-17 trophy.