By Neto Baptiste
Antigua and Barbuda Football Association (ABFA) presidency hopeful, Barbara Coates, said that if successful in her bid to dethrone former national striker, Everton Gonsalves, her priority would be to first complete the body’s technical and training centre in Paynters.
She was, at the time, responding to questions regarding her intentions for the historic Antigua Recreation Grounds (ARG) and a 25-year lease the FA holds on the property.
“Our priority has to be to make sure that there has to be a home for football here in Antigua and Barbuda for the ABFA, and we have to put as much of our resources to make sure that we can play international games at Paynters. We would have to review what is there in terms of the ABFA lease but we are not going to focus on and put our resources into that because the reality is that it is not ours; it is a lease. So, we have a home, we have the land at Paynters, so that is where the priority needs to be because we are sharing the lease then we know if the government requests it we have to give it up, so why are we putting more money into that?” she said.
Coates, who is currently a floor member with the ABFA, went on to add that the historic venue would however, still play a role in football, but that they must find creative ways of raising the necessary funds to maintain the venue.
“We know all of the historical things that would have happened there and whenever we travel around the world we see it for ourselves where, if you want to go into a national park you pay $5, or you pay $10 and if you want to use the bathroom. So, we have to put all those measures in place because no longer we can think, ‘why should I pay?’ So we have to make sure that money goes in and we use it to maintain the Antigua Recreation Grounds,” she said.
Reports are that FIFA, the ABFA and the government are in talks over the possible upgrading of the facility and its continued use by the football association to host top flight and international matches.