By Neto Baptiste
Former national players and captains, Ivor “Ninja” Luke and Derrick “Pretty Boy” Edwards, will contest the next Antigua and Barbuda Football Association (ABFA) elections constitutionally due in May this year.
The duo has been confirmed as part of a slate headed by Barbara Coates, who is currently a floor member on the Everton Gonsalves-led executive.
Speaking on the Connecting with Dave Lester Payne show on Thursday, Luke, a former national and Lion Hill Spliff defender, said there needs to be a greater investment in local players and clubs.
“I heard somebody from Barbuda say that they don’t have any gold, they don’t have any diamonds or oil so your main resource is your people. Football has the highest percentage of participation in the country by far, in terms of sports, so we have to harness that and we have to educate our youths,” he said.
“One of the other things I want to say to the clubs also is that we would like your vote and your confidence in us so that we could enact change in football, football administration and opportunities for our players in Antigua and Barbuda, but don’t expect that because you vote for us that is it; you the clubs have to come on board and do the work just like us because if it’s seven or nine, we can’t change football on its own,” he added.
Meanwhile, Edwards, a former national striker and prolific goal-scorer, said he was persuaded to take up the challenge following dialogue with Coates.
“Being around Barbara and seeing how she operates with her leadership skills drove me to see that she’s a leader and you need somebody to lead. She is the first person running for this position to ever come with a document about her plans and programmes and that just said a lot to me at that time,” he said.
Coates, who will challenge Gonsalves for the top spot when the vote is called, explained that Luke will serve as her right hand once successful.
“Ivor is in fact, the vice president [candidate] because we know that we have a revised constitution [which] currently speaks to seven persons including one president and one vice president and Ivor has agreed to be the vice president. We also have Derrick with us and these are two gentlemen I respect dearly for all they have done in Antigua and Barbuda in football. Right now, we know that our football product is not where we want it to be. We want to see it grow, we want to see it develop and these are the persons who are going to be instrumental in making that happen,” she said. Coates did not name the other members of her slate but assured that her team will be fully assembled in time for the electoral congress.