By Neto Baptiste
Although agreeing that placing a limit on the number of foreign players any one team is allowed to import during the domestic season, former national and Lion Hill player, David “Tull” Warner, believes players should bear some blame for not better preparing themselves to compete at the top level.
Speaking on the Good Morning Jojo Sports Show, Warner said local players must invest more time in self-development if they are to become more attractive to coaches.
“Simply work harder, have more desire and the whole community will see that ‘x’ player is here and he has developed to this standard, so we need to encourage him and make him feel a part of what we are doing here,” he said.
“And again, add some form of incentive, whether it is playing time or whatever so you keep him interested and keep him wanting to grow. We just have to find the right balance, but it has to start from the players on a personal standpoint because if you are not at a certain standard, then nobody is going to want to pick you anyway.”
A founding member of the Lion Hill Football Club, Warner said self-training is what made the difference between those players who were considered ordinary and those who would have excelled during his era.
“That same Ivor ‘Ninja’ Luke and I, we used to spend hours working on stuff [like] I am weak at this and I need to get better at this so let’s do a bunch of repetitions on this. The things we are good at we would still spend time because you have muscle memory, you have to remember where to strike the ball but it took a lot of extra time and a lot of effort and that’s the only way you can get better. Your level of success is always based on the level of effort you put into whatever,” the player said.
Still, the former utility player believes there needs to be more dialogue between the football association and its members on the way forward, as it pertains to managing the influx of foreign players.
“If I need 10 players and I would bring in five players from wherever, then that would mean two or three players from Antigua would not be getting the development they need. The more foreign players coming to Antigua then the fewer Antiguan players would get to play and get to be developed so the clubs and the FA would have to come together to do [fix] that,” Warner said.
“It’s a combination of things that makes anything happen and it’s good to say you want more young players to come through, but you have to find a way to attract people to come to the sport and incentives is one of the greatest things you can find. If there is no incentive then nobody would want to do anything,” he added.
The debate over the importation of players has been ongoing for some time now with some calling for a cap or limit on the amount of players brought in by any one team while others have said they are not in favour of a cap. The Antigua and Barbuda Football Association (ABFA) have said they will allow clubs to set their own caps, but even the clubs are seemingly divided on the issue.