By Neto Baptiste
Unsuccessful in her bid to dethrone long-serving president of the Antigua and Barbuda Football Association (ABFA), Everton Gonsalves, when the body held its electoral congress on Monday, lone challenger and former executive member Barbara Coates has vowed that this is not the end.
Speaking on the Good Morning Jojo Sports Show, Coates said she intends to continue her quest to become head of the organisation during the election cycle slated for 2026.
“Football is not where it’s supposed to be. There aren’t any development programmes, there are no solid youth programmes, there aren’t any infrastructure, no club structure. I know people are afraid of change but we can’t implement wholesale change; it has to be gradually implemented. The 28 persons and clubs who voted for me, we’ve already started conversations. [We] have to make sure the clubs are stronger and understand what our constitution says so it wouldn’t just be Barbara saying it because she is upset; it would be everybody speaking together,” she said.
Gonsalves won 32-28 on a majority vote after failing to achieve the constitutionally required two-thirds margin following a first round of balloting.
Coates, in accepting the results, said she had objected to at least two practices leading into and during the elections, one of which surrounded the level of involvement by the current general secretary — Rohan Hector — in the process, and the other concerned the procedure used to cast ballots on the night of the election.
“The general secretary was one of the persons who were responsible, and that should not be because the process, even for the due diligence when the applications come in, they are supposed to go to that committee … and they were the ones who were supposed to review our police records [and] to make sure everything is in place. The general secretary was fully involved in that and that should not have been,” she said.
“The other thing I questioned with them was the process. The past elections I would have attended, normally the ballot papers would have been distributed at the desk because the vote is by secret ballot. They were explaining to me that persons were going to go behind a screen and cast the vote. I said that is not a problem but you need to make sure another person goes with that person,” Coates added.
The CPTSA Wings executive member, when asked if she would consider any offer from the president to form an alliance, said she will continue to focus on moving her organisation forward instead.
“When we campaigned we did so on two different platforms and when I was there it was two different platforms. If we can come to a compromise then, maybe, that can happen. But the reality is that it’s two different platforms that we campaigned on, so I would have to continue working with Wings and continue to work with the Free Kick Foundation and continue to make sure that football wins,” Coates said.
Also re-elected for a fourth term were three vice presidents: Gwendolyn Salmon, Daryl Michael and Akeilah Hillhouse. There were four newcomers for the position of member — Jason Knight, Cliff Williams, Darise James and Delta Browne. Longstanding member and head of the ABFA Referee Committee, Rolston James, was re-elected.