By Neto Baptiste
President of the Antigua and Barbuda Football Association (ABFA), Everton Gonsalves, has suggested that sitting floor member Barbara Coates, is being pushed by whom he calls “perennial detractors” in her decision to challenge him for the body’s principal position.
Coates, who was elected when the FA held elections four years ago, has made public her intentions to challenge Gonsalves during the next electoral congress constitutionally due in May.
Gonsalves, who said the potential candidate is well within her right to challenge for the position, however believes her desire is being fueled by two well-known figures within the sports community.
“I will tell you pointblank that a vote for Barbara is a vote for ‘Porridge’ Benjamin if that’s what you want to hear, a vote for ‘Porridge’ and ‘Flipper’ Benjamin. I have spoken to the woman [Coates], I know the woman inside out, and that is why I am telling you there is no hard feelings because it is not her, and I say that with confidence, and if it’s proven different I will have no issue. I tell you this also, I will not contest another election if I am successful in this election. I think that I have given enough,” he said.
Coates, in an interview last week, identified improved communication with stakeholders, enhanced leadership and a higher level of professionalism as some of the positives she is hoping to bring to the organisation once successful in her bid to dethrone the sitting president.
Gonsalves claims that he would have been amongst the first to encourage Coates to contest the ABFA elections in 2017.
“It is I who encouraged her because of my relationship with Wings over the years, and Lucaso Brumant, as part of the CPTSA Wings, to join the Antigua and Barbuda Football Association (ABFA) to help us as part of a team to continue the upward trajectory of football in this country, and so we will always have a cordial relationship. She is now guided by some of the perennial detractors and as such, she has taken a decision to challenge,” he said.
When contacted for a reaction, Coates refused to comment, stating her only focus at this point is how to move the game and its athletes forward. Two other potential candidates in former referee Denmore Roberts and Michael Freeland of New Winthorpes have made their intentions to contest the pending vote public.