The Barbados Football Association (BFA) and by extension Caribbean Football Union (CFU) scored a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) bilateral deal with the Argentina Football Association (AFA) yesterday at the BFA headquarters at Wildey, St. Michael.
The historic signing was cemented with the signatures of BFA and CFU president Randolph Harris along with that of Gerardo Leon an executive director of AFA which was witnessed by (host) Argentinian ambassador to Barbados Gustavo Pandiani along with other dignitaries and specially invited guests that included chairman of the National Sports Council McDonald Fingall.
The partnership with Argentina, two-time FIFA World Cup champions, will afford Barbadian players, coaches and those in sports science the opportunity to gain some much-needed expertise as part of the agreement.
It is expected that AFA will also provide assistance to other football territories within the region as it relates to facilities and equipment, an organisation of programmes, training and football management, sports medicine and anti-doping policies along with scholarships in football law and sports marketing programmes.
Harris during his remarks said that signing the MOU was the beginning of that first step towards maturity in the Caribbean and stated that what happens in Barbados was a reflection of what happens in the region.
“I know that they have the technical ability to help us in all areas. I’ve been there and I’ve spoken to the president (Claudio Tapia), they have the quality people in coaching, in refereeing, and we saw the quality of their players at under-17 level and that is where we aim to get in the Caribbean,” Harris said.
The collaboration between the Spanish-speaking country and Barbados, in particular, stemmed from last year December when the national under-17 team travelled to Buenos Aries Argentina for training and educational purposes at Boca Juniors Campus.
It is not often that a giant football nation such as Argentina takes on and offers support to Caribbean teams and therefore Harris said he intended to make the most of the partnership.
In fact, Harris said he intended to show that the region was not only good for its votes but could make a difference otherwise.
“We are going to begin as soon as possible. If the president (Claudio Tapia) did not have his unfortunate situation in Miami we probably would have been able to tell you when exactly we would start and where we would start… How many big football nations usually take on people from the Caribbean? We are only usually good for our vote, now we are going to prove that we are good in the game,” Harris said.
With the cooperation of Argentina through the MOU, Harris believes that with lots of support, Barbados has a chance of qualifying for the World Cup which will be hosted in 2026 by the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) of which Harris is also vice-president.
“We have quality players in Barbados. What we have to do is to have a quality programme to develop those players… In order for any team in Barbados to have an impact, we need to have the support of everyone. Not only the government but FIFA, CONCACAF and the CFU supports its own and you can see the results of what that support brings to Barbados,” he said.
Leon said his association was honoured to help develop football not only in Barbados but also in the Caribbean. In addition, he explained that the AFA was not only here to contribute but also to receive.
“It’s not only an exchange of players, referees, coaches and managers but we would like to also create here an environment in which the Caribbean football association could do a regional competition… Where a Caribbean team can play in the South America Cup,” Leon said.
“Even though we are World Cup champions twice, does not mean that we know everything? We know nothing and the last World Cup shows that Argentina could do much better than we did,” he said.