By Neto Baptiste
Despite a lower than anticipated turnout during the first two days of the All Stars Elite Football Camp, one chief organiser and former national player, Mervyn Richards, is indicating they will push forward with the programme as planned.
Reports are that only nine players turned out for sessions on Monday’s opening day at the Police Recreation Grounds (PRG) while a total of 13 players were present on Tuesday.
“For me, whether it is one, two, three, four, five or six, we will still go through with what we promised we would do but today [Tuesday], the turnout was a little better. We did our ball mastery and also our one v one and some small-sided sort of set-ups so we could see exactly if the drills we did before were incorporated in the little games and so on,” he said.
Organisers of the camp, which is geared towards identifying talented players, are hoping to further groom and prepare for national duties, were anticipating a large turnout of players from which they would have selected the top 40 players for specialised training.
Richards said the late dissemination of information to the clubs by the football association could account for the low numbers, adding that a seeming lack of interest by clubs could also be a factor.
“I still think it was a matter of the information going out [late] and I believe there are other camps out there like the ABFA’s programme which is one that sort of coincides with ours even though they [clubs] would have gotten that information pretty late as well, even later than when they got ours but it’s either the clubs don’t care about the development of their players and I don’t want to believe that but I just can’t see the reason why if the information had gone out there and the clubs are aware of what we are trying to do and just don’t respond to it,” he said.
The former national coach noted they received some assistance from the football association but are still awaiting word regarding other promised assistance.
“We got six balls from them [ABFA] and they had promised to sponsor a couple [of players] but we haven’t heard anything from them and maybe because of the numbers that might change. We got a temperature gun and some hand sanitizers and that’s all we got from them so I honestly don’t know what I can say at this point. I think they had promised also to send some players but we haven’t seen them as yet,” Richards said.
The Antigua and Barbuda Football Association (ABFA) is also slated to commence preparation of their under-23 men’s team this week which could also significantly impact the camp’s drawing power. The FA is currently hosting training sessions for under-17, under-20 and senior girls while under-15 girls are slated to commence their training sessions next week.