Footballers in this country could be back on the pitch by February or early March next year as the Barbados Football Association has been given the green light to finally host its Premier League season.
During an interview with Barbados Today, BFA president Randy Harris said he was upbeat about the prospects of football returning, stressing the football body would be working closely with the COVID-19 monitoring unit in rolling out the tournament.
The veteran administrator said while the BFA was moving ahead with planning for the season, the kick off would depend on the COVID situation in Barbados at the time and advice from the monitoring unit.
“We are planning really to see if it is possible. We are planning for a February start or early March but that all depends on the COVID unit and how they see it at that time,” said Harris.
“It is a wait and see. We are not in total control of the situation.”
Only seven games of this year’s Premier League were possible before the country entered a national lockdown due to the onset of the global COVID-19 pandemic.
However, while other sporting disciplines have resumed and since concluded their seasons, football has remained sidelined.
Looking ahead to the upcoming season, Harris said he hoped for an ease in restrictions in order to host other competitions like the Division One and Two.
“We would like to play all divisions but obviously with the situation of all the clubs who are usually using mainly the National Sports Council grounds. It would be a difficult situation to manage football in a way that would be acceptable,”
“We are hoping that as time goes along, the COVID monitoring unit would relax some of its restrictions, but we would want to be in a position where we can play all divisions across the board.”
Next year will be an important one for Barbados as the Bajan Tridents national team are gearing up for the FIFA World Cup qualifiers in March.
Tridents will feature in Group D against the likes of Panama, Dominican Republic, Dominica and Anguilla, and are expected to travel for their opening first-round match on March 25 against Panama.
And Harris made it clear that the BFA’s main focus in 2021 will be on the senior team’s preparation for international competition.
“We have to play our premier league around the training schedule of the national teams. The national teams take precedence over all other competitions. So we are hopeful. Once we know exactly how we can proceed, we can plan,” he pointed out.
“We are supposed to be playing in the FIFA World Cup qualifiers in March. The Under-20 team is also in the hunt for qualification for the FIFA World Cup.
“I am hoping we find a way of getting these competitions to be played. Hopefully, we will find ourselves in a better position on the field of play.”
He continued: “That is what we are concentrating on at the moment. FIFA has indicated the protocols that they would like to see in place for international games, so we have a guideline to follow.
“But other than that it is a tight situation and we could only wait and see how things will plan out in 2021.”
Meanwhile, the BFA facility at the Wildey Astro Turf will be boosted come next year as FIFA has granted permission for extension work to be conducted.
In an interview earlier this year, BFA vice-president Captain Al Walcott had said there was expansion work to be undertaken at the facility and Harris confirmed this construction would begin shortly.
“FIFA has signed off on the extension of the project which is the offices and construction of a retainer wall. So we are just waiting on the contractors to start,” Harris said.