The beautiful game is currently not so beautiful here in Barbados, both on and off the pitch.
The senior men’s team is still reeling with many unanswered questions following a record setting 8-1 defeat at the boots of football minnows Bermuda in the 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup; they are still without a technical director and currently sit at 162 in the FIFA world rankings.
Off the pitch, the Barbados Football Association (BFA) was rocked last week by the resignation of five senior council members who decided enough is enough under the leadership of President Randy Harris.
The five consisted of vice president Omari Eastmond, junior assistant secretary Simeon Allsopp, treasurer Christian Renwick and two other members O’Brien Smith and Carlos Jackman resigned from their positions.
Lost in the hoopla of the blame game by the remaining members of the BFA executive was the fact that five of the island’s youngest and brightest footballing minds left one of the oldest sporting organisations in the country.
What followed in the subsequent days was a barrage of articles featuring former BFA presidents, general secretaries, coaches and players all singing in unison for the resignation of President Harris or at minimum a call for fresh elections of officers.
Reports also suggest a no-confidence motion against the president by some select clubs is in the works.
While all of this does not bode well or looks remotely promising for President Harris, he has been down this road before, falling out of favour with the clubs. But what is most concerning this time around is that to date no club or individual has publicly come out in support of Harris and his regime.
Not a good sign for the Caribbean Football Union President, nor is it good press regionally and internationally as FIFA monitors all of these developments closely.
Barbados football is at a critical juncture and a truthful assessment must be made of the sport under the presidency of Harris.
Harris was elected in 2012. Barbados had previously under then president Ronald Jones climbed all the way to 92nd in 2009. However, there were murmurs that Jones, a Minister of Government should step away from the top football post and focus his attention on being Minister of Education.
In 2012, Jones decided to step away from the position of president after three terms and Harris was elected to the top post defeating challenger Charles Husbands 74 votes to 47.
In 2015, as the country was preparing for the 2018 World Cup, in a qualifying match Barbados did the unthinkable by fielding a player who had received two yellow cards and was ineligible to play in that game.
Barbados was immediately fined $12,947.57 at the time, and forfeited the game giving Aruba a 3-0 victory and ending our outside chances of qualifying even before we really started.
Some at the time called for heads to roll but as a young president in tenure, it was more of the BFA administration’s fault and the coaching team than the president in the eyes of some.
In 2017, Barbados plummeted to 181st (the lowest position the country has ever been) and have been bounced from every major tournament despite a series of coaches, advisors and technical advisors.
Harris since then has elevated himself to President of the Caribbean Football Union; and is also a sitting CONCACAF Vice President. He has been to multiple FIFA assemblies and sat on a few committees as well.
While these accolades do him well, Barbados’ football has not enjoyed similar feats of accomplishments.
This leaves many to question…. What is the benefit of having a president with so much cachet, but little substance when it comes to delivering tangible goals for Barbados and by extension the region?
When compared to another former CFU and CONCACAF vice president, the benefits to the region are miles apart not to mention the respect.
Perhaps what many of his harshest critics cite is his dismissive attitude of opposing views and as stated by one of the resigned five, Allsopp, who was quoted as saying: “Our biggest challenge in the BFA is the disregard for the clubs, no proper budgeting, no proper planning, they don’t even have a calendar for football in this country. And although the younger members on the youth committee, technical committee and women’s committee joined together and brought those things to the council, those things are just brushed aside like a fly.
“We are building a big white elephant up there (Wildey) that we could put in more dorms and more seating but nobody goes up there. We need to do more programs in the communities, we need to focus on grassroots football, we need to invest heavier in the coaches.”
This is not the first time Harris has been accused of being dogmatic in his ways and there are well-documented exchanges most infamously with his former General Secretary Chris Graham.
The sad part of this entire fiasco presently is that while there is no football being played locally, there are thousands of young men and women who just want to enjoy the beautiful game and not be bothered by the politics of it all.
Who knows, maybe there is time left for Harris to turn it around and win back the admiration of the footballing public and players as he once did during the BESS tournament and the LIME Pelican Cup, where he showed his prowess for creating events.
If the BFA administration truly loves the game they should take a long hard look at themselves and decide if it truly is time to raise their hands, signal to the bench that they are tired, defunct of ideas and ask the coach to give way to newer legs to get Barbados competitive again.
The proverbial ball is in your possession, President Harris. The game is on the line for Barbados. Please don’t miss out on this chance to score a goal.