By Neto Baptiste
Former national defender and football association election candidate, Ivor Luke, said the recent development regarding the national under-17 women’s team withdrawal from the CONCACAF leg of the FIFA World Cup Qualifiers is the result of prolonged incompetence by the present and former administrations.
Speaking on the Good Morning Jojo Sports Show on Friday Luke, who will seek to become a vice president when the association hosts it’s Covid-19 delayed electoral congress, said he and other past players were victims of similar administrative blunders.
“When I was playing, we have been to airports and there are no tickets there and all sort of things. We have been left on airport in St Maarten because when we reached St Maarten the flight was delayed and the manager said they didn’t give him any money for that. So when we reached, the St Maarten airport closed down and we had to stay at a hotel the night, but ended up staying on the airport. So the incompetence in terms of administration has been there for a long time. The problem is that there is more money now so you have an admin so the problem we are having now is why are we still having this problem?” he said.
The former Lion Hill player drew reference to the incident involving former national striker Derrick Edwards and senior men’s team equipment manager Danny Benjamin in March 2018, when the duo was arrested in Jamaica.
A quantity of marijuana was found in the team luggage as they attempted to board a flight at the Norman Manley International Airport, which led to their arrest and subsequent charging.
Luke highlighted that to this day, there has been no educating of the clubs based on recommendations contained in the report.
“From that there is a report, so what does the report recommend going forward because other clubs are going to travel and it would benefit these clubs if there is a recommendation as to how you go about managing teams when going abroad and that has not been sent to the teams or has there been any discussions with the teams. I am not talking what is in the report in terms of recommendations because reports come with recommendations,” the former player said.
“The last World Cup qualifiers with the men we brought some men from England and they couldn’t go through Puerto Rico so they couldn’t go to the Virgin Islands and play and now you have the under-17s who have been training for so long and just to get the visas you can’t get the visas because the embassy locked down,” he added.
Where it pertains to his campaign, Luke said it has been building momentum, adding that the delayed elections may be working in his favour.
“From my point of view, or our point of view, I think it has been going pretty good and I guess the other side would say the same thing but it has been good to us. Every disappointment is a blessing and it’s up to you to just turn the positive into a negative so the longer the election is delayed is the more we will just show patience and do a lot of the ground work we need to do by trying to jell together, get better strategies going forward and that’s what we are doing,” he said.
Visa complications forced the Antigua and Barbuda women’s under-17 football team to withdraw from the CONCACAF qualifiers which are ongoing at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, FL, USA.
Difficulties in securing dates for players seeking US visas prior to the start of the tournament resulted in the youth team being pulled from the competition where they were scheduled to contest Group D alongside St. Lucia, Guadeloupe and Guyana. St Lucia and Guadeloupe had also pulled out of the qualifiers reportedly for similar reasons.