By Neto Baptiste
Antigua and Barbuda Football Association (ABFA) presidency hopeful, Barbara Coates, has denied claims she is being influenced by “known detractors” to challenge the body’s sitting president, Everton Gonsalves, on whose executive she currently sits.
Appearing on Observer Radio’s Connecting with Dave Lester Payne programme, Coates sought to debunk claims by Gonsalves that her decision to vie for the association’s top position is being fuelled by brothers Kenneth and Rohan Benjamin of the Liberta Sports Club.
“Nobody has asked me to run,” she said. “That is my decision because I am not a person you are going to tell what to do. I see the need for the change and if I was here because somebody else has asked me to be here, I would not have been able to speak with the authority that I speak. I know people are thinking that ‘the audacity of this person to make a decision like that’, but I have been inspired by me to do this. I’ve been in football for 14 years and I have been a leader for Wings football festivals.”
Coates, who was elected as a floor member four years ago, said that although she has the greatest of respect for Gonsalves and what he has done as a player, she believes that the time is right for change and fresh ideas.
“It is not my intention to take anything from anybody because Everton has done a lot. He was a great player but there’s a time for a change and this is the change and now is the time for that change. Nothing is ever perfect but if you reportedly make reports to your leader and you have an organisation that you are head of and you have certain disputes and the person would repeatedly come and send emails and stuff like that, then do you not sit down with them and say let’s have a conversation, let’s have a come to Jesus meeting? And you would sit down, just like in your household and you try to figure out what’s the best way and you try to make sure that when you are making your decisions that it is not about you,” she said.
Coates said more focus must be placed on what happens off the field if youngsters are to develop meaningful careers in football.
“I have a degree in human resources so I come with capabilities. I am not trying to gain anything for anybody to say that this is what Barbara wants. I just want to see opportunities for the players and the persons involved in football because not everybody will be a player. So my take on it is that we need to start to introduce, as early as possible, how persons can become commentators, journalists, reporters and any aspect of the sporting discipline because when the game is played here, a lot has to happen in the background,” she said.
Gonsalves has said that he will seek a fourth term in office, one he plans to make his last if successful. Elections are due in May this year.