President of the Barbados Football Association, Randy Harris, and principal of the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, Professor Sir Hilary Beckles, today signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that could have far-reaching consequences for the development of football in the island.
The MOU will facilitate several collaborations which will include, among other areas, training for sports administrators in the BFA and the provision of opportunities for FIFA-certified coaching. Additionally, next year will see a Combined Campuses and Colleges (CCC) football team participating in the regional tournament. A similarly structured team has been involved in regional cricket with notable success over the past few years.
Sir Hilary said the university was prepared to assist the BFA not only with facilities, educational programmes, policy discussions, financial and contractual discussions and matters related to community responsibility, but also with the necessary soft skills that were required to make good judgments.
“We are here to make available to the BFA what they are entirely deserving of, which is the support of their university. Mr. President, you are not asking us for any special favours, you are saying to us we are here to advance young people as soccer players. We are here to do the same. Let us get together and collectively do what is right and what has to be done,” Sir Hilary said, adding that he saw the CCC’s inclusion in the Caribbean Football Union’s competition as a great development.
Head coach for the Academy of Sport at the Cave Hill Campus, Roland Butcher, echoed Sir Hilary’s sentiments and said the decision to allow CCC to play in the regional competition was made last year during the FIFA World Cup in Brazil. He explained the university had signed a MOU with the CFU to collaborate in a number of areas.
“One of the things within that MOU was the CCC football team taking part in the Caribbean Football Union Club Championship on a yearly basis and Randy was in Brazil at the time when that [MOU] was signed. So we do have a MOU with CFU and part of that we saw was the development of this team on the basis of what happened with CCC in cricket,” he said.
During his remarks Harris said working with UWI would help to assist the BFA with its long-term strategic plan for football development in Barbados and he hoped that this would be the turnaround for performance and success in Barbadian football.
“I would just like to thank you personally for giving the BFA and the wider community in Barbados a chance to be able to have the facilities and the knowledge of Cave Hill available to our footballers, the association and to the young people as a whole. We look forward to working with the University of the West Indies to improve and to assist us with the development of our long-term strategic plan for football development in Barbados and we hope this is the beginning of the turnaround for Barbadian football in terms of the successes and performance in this region and beyond,” Harris said.
Some of the privileges within the MOU which would be afforded the BFA were shared by the head of the Academy of Sports, Amanda Reifer, who said there had been discussions on a number of areas for mutual assistance.
“From an academic point of view we have been speaking about research. We have the academic sports programme certificate to masters level and hopefully PHD and this is in sports science. We are looking to amalgamate the theoretical scientific theories of sports science to a practical way, so we will be discussing testing of national footballers at senior and junior level. We have a biomechanics lab and exercise physiology lab and so the research that we would be doing on the ground in the academic forum we want to translate that in a practical sense to our national teams. We were discussing the whole issue of sport administration and training of sports administrators in the BFA as well as providing opportunity for FIFA certified coaching to take place at Cave Hill,” she said.
During the session Sir Hilary also touched on the furore that developed after he indicated earlier in the month that the sports complex at Cave Hill would be named after Jamaican sprint ace and world and Olympic champion Usain Bolt. He raised the issue of insularity in the region.
“Caribbean People, not only in Barbados, but across the region are oftentimes divided between their futures; whether they wish to see themselves as insular or whether they wish to see themselves as regionalists. And all of us at some point or another have had to choose whether we want a regional vision or a national vision. That has been the consequence of the collapse of our Federation. We have not yet fully made up our minds whether we are Caribbean people or whether we are insular people. The role of the University is to commit to an unrelenting resolve to forge the people of the Caribbean into one nation. This is our unrelenting vision to forge Caribbean people who have had a common history with a common destiny to function together as one people. This is our remit, this is why we were established and this is why we will continue in that vein,” Beckles said.
He added: “At the Usain Bolt Stadium we have the Ryan Brathwaite Track, Ryan Brathwaite is a distinguished Barbadian sprinter. We have the Obadele Thompson stand. We have the Kirani James stand, a distinguished Grenadian sportsman. We have a Grenadian, we have two Barbadians and we have a Jamaican. The Jamaican is the quintessential sportsman of his time. I can tell when I was in Jamaica a few weeks ago the conversation in Jamaica was quite different from the conversation in Barbados. They believe that we have pulled off a coup.
“They want to know how we could pull such a fast one so quickly. But I said listen, he is the big man and we celebrate the fact that in Jamaica at the Mona Campus you all honoured Sir Frank Worrell. When Sir Frank Worrell was the number one sportsman in the Caribbean, the Mona Campus named their sports complex the Sir Frank Worrell Complex. The St Augustine Campus in Port of Spain did the same thing –– a distinguished Barbadian celebrated. We have a moment to reciprocate and to show our generosity, our vision, our sense of gratitude because we are one people.”