By Neto Baptiste
Former captain of the Antigua and Barbuda Benna Boys, England-based Joshua Parker, has pointed to a level of unprofessionalism in the football association’s approach as a major factor in the team’s lack of success over the years.
Speaking on the Good Morning Jojo Sports Show on Monday, Parker said the FA failed to deliver on what should have been simple requests by the players in the past which may have led to the rebellious nature of some.
“We didn’t ask for anything outrageous. We just said can we be paid on time if we’re due money and can we have pre-match already made so we are not having cookies and sandwiches for pre-match, and can we have our flight information two weeks before-hand instead of the day before-hand, because our clubs in England won’t allow us to travel if you’re messaging us and asking can we fly tomorrow … it doesn’t work like that because this is professional football,” he said.
“Naturally we are going to get frustrated and we are going to become a product of the environment we are surrounded by. So if we’re surrounded by unprofessional people that don’t want the best for their country, then we are almost going to rebel and act that way towards them because we don’t ever see any progression,” he added.
Parker added that a decision by some players in 2018 to form a representative body and request changes on behalf of all players, soured some within the ABFA executive and this has since been used to divide and conquer.
“I feel like there is a divide, and people have always tried to create a divide for whatever reason, but naturally we have a lifestyle that we live over here [in England] so we gravitate to people we can relate to, and the Antiguan boys have a lifestyle that they relate to and will gravitate to, but people try to make it seem like they are separate from us or we are separate from them,” he said.
“The end-goal should be about how can we be better as a team, as an individual, so I felt like … this is why the overseas players are in limbo at the minute because, like we were headed in the right direction, but we feel like it’s gone further back than seven, eight or nine years ago,” Parker added.
Meanwhile, national goalkeeper Brentton Muhammad said that in spite of all the issues, he is still ready and willing to represent Antigua.
“I was in Antigua three days after my granddad passed and I went and played an international game with the weight of that [grieving] on my shoulders. I take great pride in representing Antigua and Barbuda. I understand that every game is not going to be my best game, but my effort is never compromised and I don’t think that anyone who has watched me play can say I’ve turned up on the pitch and not played with passion. I am not taking anything away from anyone else who has played for Antigua in goal, but I am just confused as to what is going on,” he said. There were no England-based players in the senior national team for the Concacaf Nations League (CNL) encounters against Curacao, Jamaica and Aruba.