FA President reveals strict Covid protocols hampered hosting of match in Antigua

The fate of several female football international competitions is now up in the air
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By Carlena Knight

President of the Antigua and Barbuda Football Association (ABFA) Everton ‘Batow’ Gonsalves has sought to respond to concerns raised by some members of the public as to why both upcoming matches for the senior men’s football team will take place overseas instead of the normal home and away format.

Gonsalves explained that due to the country’s Covid requirements it would not have been feasible for the ABFA to host any team in Antigua.

The Benna Boys are slated to travel to Curacao later this month to face Montserrat in their first FIFA qualifying match. Days later they will travel to the US Virgin Islands for their second encounter.

“Those matches will not be played in Antigua, because that is the alternative due to the Covid requirements that overseas teams and others have to encounter to come to Antigua and Barbuda.

“So that being said, our home match will not be able to be played in Antigua; we will have to now expend a significant amount of funds to get to Curacao to play Montserrat there and a couple of days after we will fly to the USVI,” said Gonsalves.

He also dispelled rumours that FIFA would have funded the trips. He noted however that they did give some sort of assistance.

The former national footballer also credited the Ministry of Health for its role in permitting training for these upcoming matches.

Meanwhile, the fate of several female football international competitions is now up in the air. This is according to head of female football in the country, Gwen Salmon.

 “On the calendar, the under-17 team and the under-20 girls are slated but because of Covid, I am not sure that’s going to happen this year.

“That’s in August and we also have the Nation’s League for the female senior team in November on the international calendar but as I said these are pending Covid,” she shared.

Thus far, the recent hike in Covid-19 cases has forced the Antigua and Barbuda Football Association (ABFA) to stop training sessions for these competitions.

Salmon, who is also president of the Greenbay Hoppers FC, said the decision left players frustrated but added the association was left with no choice.

“We were in training, we had a number of females in training in terms of the age groups like the under-17s, under-20s and the seniors, but due to the Covid increase we had to stop that training.

“We also had the female coaches working alongside them because we are trying to make sure that the female coaches could hold their own with teams because we have to empower them because they are going to be the coaches we want to lead the national teams going forward,” she said. 

FIFA had cancelled its U-17 and U-20 women’s World Cups that were originally rescheduled for 2021 in India and Costa Rica but were then cancelled with the nations being awarded the hosting rights for the age group competitions in 2022.

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