The Barbados Football Association (BFA), the Emmerson Boyce Foundation (EBF) and Team You have signed on the dotted line to cement their partnership towards the growth and development of football in Barbados, particularly the women’s game.
During the signing of a memorandum of understanding this morning at the Garfield Sobers Sports Complex, Randy Harris said during his tenure so far as BFA president, the work done for football has been progressive despite the fact that there were areas that could and will be improved.
Speaking in the presence of strategic partners for EBF such as Janie Frampton, the education lead, mentor and coach Brendon Batson who is the first black man to play for Arsenal and attorney at law Eileen Schofield, Harris said Boyce, a former national captain, has always shown an interest in the development of Barbados’ football.
Now that the playing days of Boyce, the first black man to captain Wigan Athletic to the FA title, are over, this Harris noted was the opportune time for him to partner with the BFA.
Recently FIFA had given each member association significant funds for the development of women’s football and even though not willing to disclose the exact amount, Harris said some of that would go towards the program.
“It has been a pleasure so far working with them, discussing things with them, sharing with them and they sharing with us. Of course, they have the experience and knowledge and training to help us with our programs here. And especially our female program which over the years has dropped off somewhat to the point where we weren’t able to have meaningful competition.
“Emmerson and his team have a plan which has worked already and which they are sure can beef up women’s football in Barbados. And the BFA is not only putting their mouth to this program but we are going to ensure it becomes a success because of our support and the support of the people around,” Harris said.
Describing it as a proud moment for EBF, his partners Team You and football in Barbados, Boyce said he has seen great potential on the island.
“I always wanted to do a program that will be long-lasting and not short. I wouldn’t say I’ve assembled but I went out and found the right people to produce this program…On a personal level, I am proud. I just want to keep the momentum going,” Boyce said.
Under the theme “Using the power of sport to empower young people to make positive life choices” the education lead for the Emmerson Boyce Foundation, Janie Frampton, who is among the first females to referee football in England, said it was really important that they didn’t just deliver sport on the island.
Frampton explained that the aim was to develop a holistic approach to the development of children and young people generally. She also added that the University of the West Indies has already shown an interest in accrediting the program on their lifelong learning courses. Acknowledging that not every child or young person was academic, she add that therefore they needed to reach those kids who were excelling in other ways.
“One thing that is important to this project is to use football as a conduit. All sport as we go down the line, to link sport with education and employability, with tourism, because that is the makeup of this island. And that is what we need to make sure that our young people can achieve.
“We are very mindful about the developments of girls and women so we have a whole separate girls program that is attached to the football program. We are having meetings across the spectrum with all aspects of education so we can have a uniform approach right through from primary school to university level,” Frampton said.
As to what the program will entail, Frampton explained that from a football aspect they will focus on the development of players, referees and individuals who may want to be signed on to volunteer work to support the creation of leagues and tournaments. The program will also focus on a full leadership women’s program.
Frampton explained that in the Caribbean they had found some issues among girls and women and there was a need to give them more confidence and self-esteem.
Boyce, Frampton, Batson, Schofield and representatives from the ministry of sport all toured various facilities around the island that are under the National Sports Council (NSC).
Boyce also has a strong support system that includes his sister Stephanie Boyce, vice-president of the Law Society in England and Wales, and will next year create history when she becomes the first person of colour to become president of the Law Society in July.
Attorney Schofield said that they will return in March 2021. Meanwhile, Batson shared the same sentiment and said so far he has had a great time working with the national players over the last couple of days. Born in Grenada, Batson said it was really important for young people to recognise what sport can do for them.
Director of the NSC Neil Murrell said he was happy to see the focus being on the development of women’s football in this country. “The strategic thrust of the National Sports Council is to aggressively push the sport in the community and we want to see more and more women there playing football, playing other associated sports. So, we believe that this historic signing will act as a model for other sports within the Barbadian context.”
Boyce and his team’s next assignment is at Hilda Skeene tomorrow Wednesday from 10.30 a.m. to 12 noon where the young females will get an opportunity to be part of a coaching session.