By Neto Baptiste
The Antigua and Barbuda Football Association (ABFA) is not yet ready to rule out the possibility of having a 2020/21 domestic season.
President of the association Everton Gonsalves, during an interview with Observer media, said that although its domestic leagues usually starts before the end of the calendar year, the body could consider a possible early 2021 start to its season once all the necessary mechanisms are in place.
“The 2021 season could start in 2021, so we have not ruled out anything. We remain positive and we are putting our full faith in God almighty because only he has all the answers that are required. But we are confident that if there is a possibility, bearing in mind what FIFA [and] CONCACAF said to us in terms of their willingness to support the restart of training and the restart of competitions, I believe we have a strong enough plan that if we get the go-ahead, that we could implement,” he said.
The ABFA was among a number of associations that were forced to bring their 2020 domestic programmes to a halt because of the deadly coronavirus.
Gonsalves, a former national and Villa Lions striker, said the association will not rule anything out until it has consulted with the relevant authorities where its protocols and other necessities are concerned.
“Testing and everything will certainly be a task, but we stand willing and able to return the number one sport to the country, but it has to be looked carefully in conjunction with the Ministry of Sports and certainly the Ministry of Health because health is our number one priority. So although we would like to return in short order, we are certainly in no rush to fall afoul and then we have some sort of outbreaespecially in the footballing fraternity and throughout the nation as a whole,” the football boss said.
The football association recently ruled its 2019/20 season null and void before increasing the number of teams in the Premier Division from 10 to 16. A total of six teams were also promoted from the Second to the First Division as part of what the FA called a restructuring of the leagues.
Gonsalves believes that fans and players alike are “hungry” for the sport’s return but adds that they must do so in a manner that is safe for all involved.
“With all that 2020 has thrown at us, I can’t predict anything with any surety when it comes to 2020 because I have been happy in 2020 [and] I have been saddened in 2020 with all of the ups and downs. We stand ready to provide whatever is required if the discussion takes place as to when we could start and we know we can’t start tomorrow but we have all the details, we have the [determination] to ensure that a restart will be handled in accordance with the required protocols,” he said.
Two weeks ago, the Antigua and Barbuda Cricket Association (ABCA) received permission from the Cabinet to resume competitive cricket at the domestic level. The body’s president, Leon Rodney, has since revealed that they will host a 10 overs competition in