The half-million dollars spent on the David Thompson Memorial Constituency Councils Football Classic within the last decade should have been invested towards developing a lucrative professional league.
That was the view expressed by Barbados Football Association president, Randolph Harris, as he spoke with Barbados TODAY in a wide-ranging interview about his vision and plans for local football. Harris said he would like to see football develop towards a professional standard and that the sport itself become an industry in Barbados.
“The David Thompson tournament, quite a bit of money has been spent in that tournament. I always thought that the money could have been better spent to have a professional league here, which would be sustainable for a period of time and not just a couple of games, and that could have been the platform for the starting of a professional league. I didn’t say anything because we tend in Barbados to believe that if somebody shares another view, that they are against you.
“My vision is that we would have professional football within the next five years. There needs to be a professionalisation of the game. Right now, we are asking much of our players especially now with the CONCACAF [Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football] League of Nations tournament coming up. We are asking our amateur players to be professionals and to compete against professionals.
“I see football as becoming an industry in Barbados, another avenue for employment and development of young people… The football would create other avenues for young people to use their skills to earn a living. But that obviously is a costly exercise. I believe right now we will get some help but it will never be enough help at this time in Barbados. But we need to have our players playing to earn a living and I hope that the authorities would really think about it seriously,” Harris said.
The David Thompson Memorial Constituency Councils Football Classic was held under the aegis of the Ministry of Social Care, Constituency Empowerment and Community Development and was inaugurated in 2011 in memory of Prime Minister David Thompson who died in office in 2010.
Harris suggested it was time Barbados’ football began to embrace a more team concept as opposed to an individualist approach to the game. According to the BFA president, that was one of the biggest drawbacks locally and he stated that the BFA’s technical director Ahmed Mohammed was currently working towards changing that mentality.
“Development evolves, I am not one that expects somebody would wave a magic wand and everything would just go the way that we dream it would go. However, we are working quietly trying to develop our young players – and that is from Under-13 – in the right way. Our biggest problem in Barbados is that we have not really adopted a team concept. We have always been a more individual player type team, and in this time that really has to change because people study the game, they can now see you playing, they don’t have to be here and they can adopt tactics to really deal with your top players. So, it must be more of a team aspect to the game, and I think that is what we are lacking,” he said.
Over the years Barbados Defence Force Sports Programme has been the breeding ground for the senior national team currently captained by one of its prodigies Rashad Jules and Harris wants to see it continue for as long as possible.
“The BDFSP has more or less been providing the players to prop up the game in Barbados. That is an excellent programme; I would never like to see it finish. Unfortunately, its budget only allows for a certain number of new recruits annually. But I would like to see it expand for football and continue in the manner that it has gone so far,” Harris said.