By Neto Baptiste
Technical director for football in Antigua and Barbuda, Sowerby Gomes, believes clubs should shoulder the responsibility of instituting their own player cap and not depend on the Antigua and Barbuda Football Association (ABFA) to regulate what many agree is an influx of foreign players in the country’s top flight.
According to the former national defender, the goal is to change the mindset of the coaches who continue to look past development and depend heavily on player importation.
“If the coaches don’t have confidence in the players they are developing, then something is wrong. The cap needs to be happening from within the club because the clubs will be led by the coaches and the coaches have got to say that I am developing all these young players and I want my players to get exposure, I don’t want my players to be on the bench,” he said.
“The reason I would want my players to get exposure is that someday I want them to play for the Antigua and Barbuda national team and that can only happen if the players get playing time, and if our coaches fail to do that then we have a problem. The coaches now are afraid to lose and as a result of being afraid to lose they prefer to say give me some overseas players so I could have a winning team so they are protecting themselves,” he added.
Gomes, whose appointment was made public by the ABFA last week, said clubs have always featured foreign players in their set-up adding that many Antigua players have benefited from playing in leagues and competitions abroad.
“I came out of a generation, playing with Villa Lions football club and we always had an outside player. We had a player from Guadeloupe or from somewhere igniting our team so I don’t see a problem with outside players because reason being, we are big on scholarships, getting our players out there to the world to get exposure, gain an education, so we are actually international players in a different set up so we could be considered outside players. We are better today because we were given an opportunity to go off to study, get an education and gain the experience,” he said.
The mass importation of players by teams competing in the FA’s Premier Division has long been debated with many agreeing that a limit should be placed on the number of players that any one club is allowed to import. The ABFA has however insisted that clubs must institute an in-house cap.