Caribbean countries share the same sporting pitfalls and problems, says Caribbean Football Union (CFU) president Randolph Harris. And he asserts that apart from Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and Haiti, football and sports, in general, are not taken seriously.
Harris who is also president of the Barbados Football Association and vice-president of the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football said the Caribbean region doesn’t see beyond the recreational side of the game and that has to change if sports is to reach greater heights.
The top administrator told Barbados TODAY that the time has come for serious regional sporting development. Since Jamaica Reggae Boyz in 1998 and Trinidad and Tobago Soca Warriors in 2006, the region has not had a representative at the World Cup. Harris said with the numbers increasing from 32 to 48 at the 2026 staging in Mexico, the United States and Canada, he didn’t see why at least one Caribbean team couldn’t qualify for the World Cup or even reach the final.
Even though admitting it would be a costly undertaking estimated at half a million US dollars for countries to source a good coach outside of the Caribbean, Harris believed there were several qualified individuals in the region capable of getting the job done.
“CFU has taken a beating with its leaders recently. The first thing we have to do is ensure that there is a foundation of integrity for the organization. We have to rebuild, we have the people involved that could assist us in ensuring that happens. And once we have that foundation, we have to look seriously at the development of football in the region. We have had times when Trinidad and Jamaica qualify for the World Cup and in the last couple of World Cups, we have had no representatives. World Cup places have now been increased and we don’t see why at least one Caribbean team shouldn’t be in the finals of the World Cup.
“I am absolutely sure that if our talented players in the region were given a chance they can do a lot better than some of the professionals that I am seeing. But we need to be taught the game early, from as early as we could and that means we have to get people with those skills to impart that knowledge,” Harris said.
The CFU boss also expressed concern that even though football was the most popular sport in the region, it was not well supported. He said even though the region had the talent, sometimes there weren’t the requisite skills available to manage that talent well. Explaining that there were persons particularly in regional football who had a love for the game but weren’t necessarily trained or qualified professionally to do what had to be done.
“Although football is the most popular sport in the region, our local and regional competitions are not as well supported as it should be and that is even in those islands that have professional leagues. And that tells me something, what it tells me is that the confidence in the leaders of football in the Caribbean has to be rebuilt. People have to be assured that when they are supporting you that you are doing what needs to be done for the improvement of the game in the region. But sometimes we have the talent and sometimes we don’t have the skills to manage it well, and those are the areas we really have to take seriously now in the Caribbean.
“Most of us in the Caribbean take up positions because of the love for the game and not really because we are trained in any particular area. In other words, you can have a president that cannot really manage but find himself in a position of being president. He might possess other skills as a former player or coach but when it comes to management of the organization, it might be a bit difficult because of the lack of knowledge,” said Harris who added he wanted to see the game developed on and off the field.
He cited the need for more administrative training courses for referees and coaches as well.
“We need to have training courses for the administrators of football in the Caribbean. There are always courses for the technical people, the referees and coaches. But when it comes to the administrative side of it, most of the time we are not having courses that we need to have to improve that side of the game. There has to be a union with the administrative, technical and everybody else that can assist with the development. But sometimes we have the talent and we don’t have the skills to manage it well, and those are the areas we really have to take seriously now in the Caribbean,” Harris said.