Sports administration can be a lonely and thankless place.
And when you are the head of an organisation overseeing the most widely played sport in the land your task is even more difficult – often nigh impossible.
There are few in Barbados who would know this more than outgoing Barbados Football Association President Ronald Jones.
Jones, Barbados’ current Minister of Education and Human Resource Development, and who gained national prominence as a trade union leader, is calling it a day after 14 years as the head of football’s local governing body.
On Sunday the BFA will chose a new president to replace the Parliamentarian, whose attention will probably now be fully focussed on leading his ministry and retaining his Christ Church East Central seat when elections are called some time between now and April next year.
Never one who is afraid to speak his mind, Jones has his loyal supporters, who over the years have been equally as passionate as his detractors.
Both sides would have strong arguments for and against the tenure of the former Barbados Union of Teachers president, who won leadership of the BFA in 1998, when he was neither MP nor minister.
The view that you cannot serve two masters has shadowed this president ever since he became a member of Cabinet in January 2008.
His critics argued that rather than progressing, many aspects of Barbados football declined under the Jones administration.
They point to the island’s current unflattering 175 FIFA ranking, the fact that Barbados has not won a major football tournament, and suggestions that despite all of the president’s influence, contacts and administrative skill there has been no major turnaround in soccer coaching programmes and infrastructure, including at the National Stadium.
In response, his supporters would quickly point to a series of successes including the millions of dollars in support Barbados football has gained via the world governing body during his time in charge, the creation of a Women’s Football League, the completion of an AstroTurf field at Wildey, a precursor to other facilities there including offices, and the influential voice Barbados has gained in Caribbean and CONCACAF, with Jones also being chosen as a member of FIFA’s ethics committee in recent months.
Any objective assessment of the president’s time in office, as is usually the case with other people in similar positions, would find negatives and positives. Just ask another veteran sports administrator, Barbados Olympic Association President Steve Stoute, whose leadership of the BOA is now being challenged.
What cannot be questioned, however, is that Jones has made a worthwhile contribution to Barbados, Caribbean and world football over the last 14 years.
We wish his successor the best of luck considering the type of profile, stature and respect Jones would have gained in the office of BFA President.
Our simple advice to whoever his successor is after Sunday’s keenly contest elections is: be your own man, accept the mantle of leadership and continue taking Barbados’ football forward.
We have no doubt those in the Jones corner would have wished to ask “how long is too long if it is good?”.
Conversely, the individuals who have been calling for his head would have gladly responded “good riddance”.
Today, we simply want to say thank you.
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