After four decades of giving his heart and soul towards the growth and development of local football, Barbados Football Association (BFA) President, Randolph Harris was last weekend honoured by members of his executive.
During the association’s awards ceremony held at its Wildey headquarters, the veteran administrator was completely caught by surprise when members of his board, including senior vice-president, Captain Al Walcott and General Secretary, Edwyn Wood, presented him with an award in recognition of his 40 years of service from 1977 to present.
Harris, the acting Caribbean Football Union (CFU) president and a member of FIFA beach football committee, was described by Walcott as a short man with a gentle soul, who always had powerful dreams when it came to football, which resulted in BFA having a home to call its own.
“He set a goal as president and I remember when we went to [Greece], Randy went among the other presidents and it was felt that he was around football [for a while] in FIFA and they knew him for a long time,” Captain Walcott said.
“And what the president [Harris] said then to the people was that he does not have any idea of how to run a football association and he wants to be a student of learning how to run football at the highest level and from then, even with the last trip we made at CFU, we recognize now that this individual is highly respected because of his humility, his desire for excellence and mainly because of his love for the game.”
Since taking up the highest office of football in the country, Harris has helped to shape the administrative dynamics of the game and significantly improved the infrastructure, evident in the construction of the new Astro Turf facility.
“When we came to office there was nothing here just the field and we had no place to play football in 2012. We came here and the president said we have to get this place ready and we prepared it as best as we can,” Captain Walcott explained.
“We had a lot of naysayers and I believed some of the best football was played around that time especially in the glory days of Rendezvous when we had a massive crowd.
“The president then invited FIFA and we had some challenges because of some issues with the last administration but he was able to press through with his persuasiveness and his character.
“FIFA agreed to give us the remainder of the money that was left and Randy went with the architect and some other people to decide how best we could get the football bluieprint we have here to ensure we have an office.”
He continued: “But we did not stop there because the objective of the president was that we had no home for football in Barbados and an organization that is a hundred years [old] in football should at least have a home.
“The president kept pressing FIFA. He built some friends around him and build the confidence of the current FIFA [administration] and other members of the FIFA executive who recognized his heart and his desire to develop the game and we were able to then get approval for the lighting and stands built through the FIFA Forward program and now we can say that by March , we will have lights at a high quality standard.”
Walcott also shared another one of Harris’s goals, noting the BFA intended to build dorms for visiting teams on a rental basis, once addition funding became available.
“We intend to have a Grand Stand extended further south and in his quest to have some revenue generation, we are also planning to have dorms on top of the office areas that we can have them rented,” Captain Walcott said.
“We recognized that when teams come for visas, they pay hotels, so we will have dorms that visiting teams can use. We can also use them at the club level, we can use them for the youths if we have the national teams in camp in this facility where we can have a home for football,” Walcott said.
Harris’s long-time friend and chairman of the BFA’s technical committee, Adrian Donovan, said the man he has grown to know over the years, was totally consumed by football.
To the entertainment of those in attendance, Donovan said, “He is not only an administrator, he got his foot broken in 1985 down Maxwell Hill playing football Christmas Day and we had to rush him to Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
“He is a football maniac, he is the only football president anywhere in the world that I know that meets the national teams, going and coming, whether they win or they lose. When other presidents in the past use to shun teams when they got beaten, he was always there.”