By Neto Baptiste
Football academies across the length and breadth of Antigua, whether existing or aspiring, could soon come under heavier scrutiny.
This is according to newly appointed technical director for football and former national defender, Sowerby Gomes, who said structures will be put in place to ensure that all academies and their coaches are compliant with all of the required rules and regulations.
“A team just can’t come up and say they are having an academy. We have to come in and you will be given a certificate if you meet the [requirement] of an academy. For instance, myself and my team will go in and see exactly what levels your coaches are at. We will also take them to do other tests to see if these particular coaches are [worthy of their calling] and we will also take them to do other tests to see if these particular coaches are fit to be coaches and are they passing on the right values to our children,” he said.
Gomes, who has been the driving force behind the Villa Lions Soccer Academy for many years, outlines some of the requirements that could come into effect shortly, hinting that a lot will hinge on the quality and certification of those coaches working within the academies.
“They are setting up teams, they are not setting up academies because academies need to be set up with proper structures. Coaches must have different tiers depending on the age group you are coaching. If you are coaching youths between four years old to, let’s say nine years old, you must have a D license. When you start to go from 10 to 12 and 13 then you must go into the likes of C and B license, but when you start to step in from 16 and up then you are looking at A license and B license; but behind of all of that we need to know exactly who are the coaches that are coaching our young players,” he said.
Currently, there are a number of football academies operating here in Antigua, many of which are members of the Antigua and Barbuda Football Association (ABFA).