Gonsalves: ABFA and Ministry must work together on ARG

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President of the Antigua & Barbuda Football Association (ABFA), Everton “Batow” Gonsalves, said the organisation will be working in harmony with the Ministry of Sports and by extension the government, to ensure the planned refurbishing of the Antigua Recreation Grounds is done in harmony and with little or no friction between the two bodies.
“We will assist the Ministry of Sports as much we can because both organisations are not endowed with all of the finances because as you know, government has its priorities also and the ABFA has its constraints in terms of finances also but pooling our resources together, our game plan and our work plan together, you are going to see a much improved refurbishing of the Antigua Recreation Grounds in terms of bringing it back to its former prestige glory,” he said.
Gonsalves’ statement comes on the heels of proclamations by Minister of Sports, EP Chet Greene, that he has sought to have the lease held by the ABFA on the property rescinded and control of the historic venue be restored to the government.
Asked what he thought of the minister’s claim, Gonsalves said the ABFA is only focused on ensuring that the facility gets the attention it deserves and that can only happen if both parties work together.
“What I noticed is that the minster had said that the Antigua & Barbuda Football Association has preference and priority in terms of maintaining our office there and that the national leagues will be played there. The lease required that we work hand in hand with the lessor, being the lessee, and that is what we have been doing,” he said.
“The Minister of Sports also has culture as part of his portfolio and so sometimes he has to move a bit more swiftly than the Antigua & Barbuda Football Association because he has to prepare for Carnival,” Gonsalves added.
The former national player has however commended the ministry on the work it has carried out at the venue thus far, adding he will be meeting with the relevant people to ensure a smooth transition to football following the Carnival festivities.
“The refurbishment carried out by the minister and his crew have been done in record time and so that augers well for a speedy exit from the Antigua Recreation Ground as soon as the carnival festivities are over. I will be dialoguing with the minister to ensure that everything is smooth because as you know, the minister comes from the bowels of football and we have our differences at times but I personally don’t foresee any issue when we sit together,” Gonsalves said.
Greene and the ABFA have had several public squabbles over the lease held by the association for the property with the minister stating, several times, that he is not in favour of the property being under the ABFA’s control.
Gonsalves said the football association still holds a lease on the property.

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