By Neto Baptiste
Former national coach, Rowan Benjamin, has taken the Antigua and Barbuda Football Association (ABFA) to task over what he perceives as failure on behalf of the association to employ all the necessary measures that would ensure the safety of players during ongoing training sessions for the senior national men’s team.
His criticism comes even through the FA currently operates under protocols that were sanctioned by the local health authorises. According to Benjamin, however, he believes players should have been tested prior to the start of national team training.
“The world governing body would have sent their protocols to all associations and they were supposed to tailor that to suit their association and send the protocols in to the Ministry of Health and [Ministry of] Sports and then you start from there,” he said.
“Do we know if the players were tested before they started training? That is wrong. We just take the players up, put them into training without testing them, but you have to test all 30 or 35 players that you call for training,” he added.
The senior men’s team is in preparation for scheduled CONCACAF World Cup Qualifiers slated to start in March.
Antigua and Barbuda will contest Group A of the CONCACAF qualifiers alongside El Salvador, Grenada, Montserrat and the US Virgin Islands.
Benjamin, who is also coordinator of the schools football, is however in support of a move by the sports ministry to place a ban on all schools sports.
“I don’t think they should play any schools competition because it is just that the Ministry of Sports is in a position to deal with that and we have to speak to the people from education also and now both are together so it makes it easy. The Ministry of Education deals with that and if they say no schools sports then that is it. The Ministry of Sports can’t do anything about that,” he said.
There have been arguments for and against the resumption of schools sports with minister Daryll Matthew declaring that leagues will not restart until officials are satisfied that it is safe to do so.