By Neto Baptiste
The Antigua and Barbuda Football Association (ABFA) is taking steps to ensure the safety of players and management staff following confirmation of a positive Covid-19 test returned by one player training with the senior men’s team.
This is according to vice president of and head of the FA’s competitions committee, Gwen Salmon, who said one player was isolated following a positive test while the body will continue to carry out weekly testing on all players and management staff.
“I think there was an issue with one player and the football association stepped in and assisted that player with everything that we can to protect himself and his family. The team has been in preparation since January and, so far, they have already done two Covid tests. They did one on Friday and then they did one before that so they would be doing weekly Covid tests going forward to ensure the safety of themselves and their families,” she said.
Salmon, who is also president of the Greenbay Hoppers Football Club, however shut down talks of a bubble for players at this stage, stating it would prove too costly to have this done.
“We have followed all the protocols put in place by the Ministry of Health and we also have put our protocols in place. It would be good to have the players in a bubble but that’s going to be a cost on the football association because some of these players have a job and if you’re going to have them in a bubble you would have to pay them for the salary they will lose because they have their families to take care of. So, that is a cost that is going to be heavy on the association along with the preparation for the tournament,” the administrator said.
“We are going to be preparing for the World Cup qualifiers until June of this year, so that is why we ensure we follow all the protocols and we are going to do weekly testing to make sure that everybody will be able to travel,” she added.
Meanwhile, ABFA president Everton Gonsalves called on all within the football fraternity to get vaccinated against the deadly coronavirus.
“The Antigua and Barbuda Football Association is encouraging all its members, players, officers and fans to take the vaccine. I did; I had mine Wednesday of last week so that’s a clarion call from the ABFA’s entire executive,” he said.
In January, the FA received permission to train in groups of 25 or less as they jumpstarted preparations for their Group A campaign in the CONCACAF qualifiers alongside El Salvador, Grenada, Montserrat and the US Virgin Islands in March. The Benna Boys are scheduled to face Montserrat on March 24th before taking on the US Virgin Islands three days later. Antigua and Barbuda will then round off their group campaign against Grenada on April 6.