Uncertainty still surrounds return of football as new variant looms says technical director

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There has been no competition football in Antigua and Barbuda since March 2020. (File photo)
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By Neto Baptiste

Even after the government has lifted restrictions on competitive team sports, technical director for football and former national player, Sowerby Gomes, said there is still no set date for a return to competition.

Gomes, who spoke recently on the Good morning Jojo Sports Show said the body must first consult with the relevant health authorities regarding, not just players and officials but fans as well.

“As soon as we can grab a hold of what’s happening in terms of health on the ground in Antigua because we have to work closely with the Ministry of Health to see how quick we can bring back contact sports and how well we can bring the football fans back out and I think all of it has a lot to do with the vaccination process,” he said.

“Now that we are looking to work along that particular timeline we are looking at a new strain coming on board so there are new uncharted waters we haven’t gotten into as yet and as we continue to unravel all the different mysteries of this particular virus, we have to keep our hands on the pulse, work closely with the Ministry of Health and see exactly how, as they guide us, we can move forward,” he added. 

Gomes highlighted that the FA has a strategic plan where it regards a return to competition, reminding that a critical part of that plan hinges on the vaccination status of players and officials.

“If we are going to start back up then all players need to be vaccinated so certainly, we have been putting plans in place for that and we will filter it down to the clubs but that would come strictly from our GS [Rohan Hector] who would definitely be meeting with the clubs on that,” he said. 

The technical director, who was appointed in July this year, hinted also that the FA could soon decide on a suitable replacement for former director of women’s football and former head coach of the senior national team Lisa Cole, who left the role in November.

“We have been in contact with a few persons who have submitted their CV to our executive office and we are in talks with them right now because we need to have them on board as of yesterday so we are very much into the process of getting that finalized,” Gomes said.

In a release issued October last year, the ABFA revealed that its 2019/20 domestic competition had been ruled null and void and that a decision had been made to increase the number of teams in the top flight from 10 to 16.

The move meant that the top six teams from the First Division were elevated to the Premier Division while the top three teams from the two competing zones in the Second Division were elevated to the First Division.

Garden Stars FC, Bendals FC, Lion Hill FC, JSC Progressors, Young Lions FC and Green City FC have all been promoted from the Second Division while Empire FC, Sap FC, FC Aston Villa, Tryum FC, Blue Jays FC and Willikies FC will play in the now 16-team Premier Division.

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