President of the Barbados Football Association Randy Harris is on record calling for passion and commitment from his BFA officers in advancing the cause of Barbados’ football.
And new BFA general secretary Joyce Stewart appears to be on that page.
In her first interview with the media since being appointed the BFA’s first female general secretary and following the controversy over her non-possession of a work permit to be employed in Barbados, Stewart told Barbados TODAY that each morning she woke up she could not wait to get to the BFA office. Stressing her commitment to Barbados’ football, the former Canadian banker and football administrator said she had put the controversy over her work status behind her and was focused on assisting the BFA further develop football on the island.
Stewart, a former senior manager with a branch of Canadian Imperial Bank with a portfolio of 38,000 accounts and almost US$50 million in deposits, explained it was a desire to serve the community that led her to be involved in football.
“I began as a convenor and later became president of my local club. Eventually, I was the first woman to be elected first vice-president of the Ontario Football Association. Because of my moorings at the community level I had a clear understanding of what was happening at various levels of the game. I understood the problems faced by coaches, players and administrators and the difficulties parents were encountering with their children in the junior leagues. I devised strategies that eliminated these problems,” the mother of two and grandmother of one said.
A strong believer in human rights, Stewart was the prime mover behind a campaign to stamp out racism in football during her tenure as first vice-president of the Ontario Football Association.
The regular visitor to Barbados for the past 25 years stated: “I could be on the Minister of Tourism’s list for long stay visitors. In the last few years, I have been visiting Barbados three times a year.”
Before her appointment with the BFA, Stewart said she had been considering living in Barbados six months a year.
Stewart was vacationing in the island last year when she saw the advertisement for the post of BFA general secretary. She said she thought the position was similar to the voluntary posts she held in Canada and applied for the job. She was on a short list of persons interviewed and was appointed to the position.
However, after her role with the BFA was brought to the attention of the Immigration Department, she was informed that she needed a work permit to function in the post and subsequently acquired it on May 28. Since then Stewart has gone about her job with fervour.
Stuart admitted her knowledge of the game was very limited but stressed as an administrator that was not important.
“My role as general secretary is to manage the office of the BFA effectively and to help devise strategies that will improve football on the island,” she said.
Stewart added that training was vital for all the key players who were involved in the game.
“We know that sports make children do much better with their studies. It gives them that discipline that serves them for life. It is my intention to seek out scholarships for our young footballers both male and female. Everyone is aware of the opportunities that are available to footballers in the various international leagues. I hope during my tenure as general secretary we can get places for our young footballers at colleges,” Stewart said.
She pointed out that more training for coaches and referees was needed to make them aware of what was taking place in the game and how to deal with or stop problems from developing during games.
“Coaches should have a keen insight into the behavioral patterns of their players and should be able to spot if they are getting out of hand on the field and bring them off before they become involved in a confrontation with another player. It is my intention to hold training sessions for coaches that will make them aware of these things,” Stewart said.
Another of her suggestions is that the BFA work more closely with the Royal Barbados Police Force to pinpoint feuding districts which might have teams playing in competitions organised by the BFA.
“If we can identify these areas, the relevant security measures can be instituted to stop any infractions from taking place,” she explained.
Gang-related violence has occasionally reared its ugly head at football games in the island.
Stewart said she was eagerly looking forward to the opening of the BFA facility at Wildey, St Michael and hoped that it would play a major role in the development of football on the island.
She praised the staff in the BFA office highly.
“I am still learning the nuances of Barbados and I rely heavily on the staff in the office to help me,” Stuart said.
Stuart noted the members of the BFA staff were using the opportunities available to them to improve their skills. She said one staff member recently had an attachment at FIFA, and she hoped that more of them would be given such opportunities.
Her work permit is for two years and Stewart said she was thankful for the opportunity to serve the game she adores in the country she loves.