Gun violence is impacting negatively on local football and president of the Barbados Football Association, Randolph Harris, has called for an end to the madness.
Speaking during the opening ceremony to kick off the 2018 football season yesterday at the Usain Bolt Sports Complex, Harris said to those in attendance including 65 clubs on parade, that the rising gun activity in Barbados was striking closer and closer to home in the football association.
“It would be remiss of me as a youth organization working for the development of the future of Barbados, that I do not mention the worrying problem of gun violence in Barbados. And I know that it is affecting registered players of the BFA and their families, and I am asking that we do something serious about this problem,” Harris said.
Adding that the BFA did not have all the answers, he pleaded for assistance in curbing the intolerable situation while sharing what role his association intended to play in dealing with the matter.
“Incarceration and severity are not the only answer, we in the BFA want to give our players who are unemployed and uncertified, an opportunity to come to the BFA on a daily basis and work on their football skills, and also try to improve and make them better citizens to fit into the society,” Harris explained.
In May last year Premier League footballer Sherwin Success was shot and killed at Wotton, Christ Church. And there have been sporadic shootings and other acts of violence at football games across the island from time to time in previous years.
During yesterday’s opening ceremony Harris also spoke about working closely with world governing body FIFA who he said had expressed an interest in working with the national senior team. The BFA president, therefore, made it clear that they would be enforcing disciplinary action on any players that went against the rules of the governing body.
The BFA seemed to be clearly keeping its word as four Barbadian players including national captain Mario Harte have all been found guilty of breaching the BFA regulations and have been suspended.
The other three players are Paradise striker Mario Williams, along with central defender Ricardo Morris and midfielder Renaldo Trim of the Barbados Defence Force Sports Programme.
These players participated in unsanctioned out-of-season tournaments such as the New Orleans and Gully Hill despite being warned not to do so by the authorities.
Just before the names of those players were revealed, general secretary of the BFA Edwyn Wood last week Thursday during a press briefing, made mention that a number of players would be disciplined for failing to adhere to the association’s rules.
“I don’t want to say this is the first time we have taken action but the players have to realize this is a serious issue. I think at the moment there is an unsanctioned tournament going on and we have had to discipline some national players.
“With the new club licensing regulations, a player is obligated to his club for the entire year, meaning he cannot play for two clubs within the same calendar year. The rule is not from the BFA, but from CONCACAF and by extension FIFA,” Wood said.
According to Wood, organizers for out-of-season tournaments tend to invite teams that are made up of players from various clubs and as a result, they end up pulling players from the respective clubs to play.
“We tried in a meeting we had last year to ask the organizers to invite clubs to their competition as opposed to inviting teams… And we know that the problem is not going to be solved overnight but if we can get them to have more structured, organized competitions, where instead of a team name Black Carpet or Black Water going into the competition with made up players, we can get Notre Dame competing or Wales which will be more in line with what the regulations are,” Wood explained, while noting that the BFA in its efforts going forward would seek to organize competitions that are meaningful for the players.
“We don’t want to thoroughly eliminate out-of-season tournaments. If they are properly structured, then by all means, no problem. On the youth side we see it happening with White Hall having their competition, along with Kick Start,” he said.
In action on the field yesterday, the President’s X1 defeated a national Combined team 3-0 with a brace from 14-year-old St Leonard’s School student Thierry Gale and the third from Demar Linton.
In a women’s match, defending champions University of the West Indies Blackbirds drew 1-1 with a President’s XI outfit. Scoring for UWI was Rianna Cyrus from a penalty kick and for the opponents, Felicia Jarvis equalised also via a penalty strike.