By Neto Baptiste
The Antigua and Barbuda Football Association (ABFA) is hoping to forge a partnership with the Ministry of Sports and particularly the schools’ football programme as they seek to capitalise on the opportunity to unearth new talent while ensuring that all the needs of the programme are met.
This is according to the FA’s technical director, Sowerby Gomes, who believes the move will benefit all involved.
“One thing we are looking for is for the ABFA and the schools league to form form a partnership so that we could have wholesome development going forward where the ABFA can use a strong talent identification programme to select the top players, from an early age, out of the schools league. These top players will forge into what we will have as an elite programme that would be fully funded by the ABFA. We would use that particular programme to start nurturing our young talent,” he said.
The former national and Villa Lions defender said that he has had dialogue with a number of ministry officials and is hoping for a favourable response.
“We are hoping that they could tell us exactly what they would want from us, and then we can lay out the proposal. I had an initial meeting with the director of sports [Heather Samuel Daley] along with the deputy director [Evans Jones] and the schools’ football coordinator, Rowan Benjamin; I am waiting for them to get back to me so that I can respond to them in writing exactly how we plan to go forward. We don’t want it to just be that school league is happening and the ABFA is not involved. We should be involved in terms of helping to forge the way forward and help to identify talent early,” the TD said.
Gomes explained, however, that the FA will only host competitions for those age groups not covered by the sports ministry.
“The schools programme, they have their under-17s or an under-20 and so on, but what they don’t have is probably an under-14. So, the ABFA would then take up that mantle and say that we are going to run an ABFA under-14 league right across the country, but the schools league in terms of trying to replicate the under-17s and others, the ABFA wouldn’t do that; we would partner with them,” he said.
Reports are that the primary schools competition will commence next month while indications are that the secondary competition will not be held this year.