By Morissa Lindsay
A newly implemented home and away fixture as well as streaming Barbados football to millions around the world through the FIFA plus service are all part of the Barbados Football Association’s (BFA) Premier League plans for 2023.
As the local governing body prepares to kick-off the new season on Sunday, January 22nd, President Randy Harris said today at the BFA headquarters in Wildey that they decided to have home and away matches in an effort to give lower division teams a better chance of performing well.
“For the first time there will be a home and away match to give the lower division a better chance at performing well,” Harris said.
He added, “The FIFA Plus is a platform for FIFA to show football all over the world, we are part of it and our games here will be streamed for the world to see and that is in place for our top league.”
During an interview with Barbados TODAY, Harris stated that the BFA expects an enjoyable season and that the clubs including for this year are in the process of completing their registration for the season but assured that everything is ready to go.
The question on most people’s mind is whether Barbados Defence Force will field a team to which Harris responded in the affirmative. There was uncertainty as to whether BDF would play because the Barbados Defence Force Sports Programme is no longer, but along with Harris’ response, Barbados TODAY was reliably informed that the BDF is hard at training in preparation for the upcoming season.
As many anticipate the upcoming season scheduled to start in a couple days, the President said he was satisfied with the Republic Cup and the Women’s Super League tournaments held last year which he noted warmed the hearts of his BFA organisation saying, “We had full support and we are hoping that it continue in 2023.”
While Harris and his capable team at the BFA have placed great emphasis on development particularly in the area of coaching education, he also disclosed some of the major plans in the works for 2023.
That includes working closely with the Ministry of Education and Technological and Vocational Training, setting up an academy for clubs, a FIFA Talent Development Scheme and a career hub for players.
“We have an experienced technical director Emmerson Boyce, he played professionally and has the experience in knowing what it takes to develop players. We are working with the Ministry of Education to have programmes in schools. As you know FIFA has football for schools and we are trying to make the most of it for Barbados.
“Also, the BFA is setting up an academy for its clubs and players and we expect that it would be producing some players in the future that would be capable of making football an occupation for a while. Then we have the FIFA talent development scheme and that is another programme for youth and that is being implemented. We have the people in place and we are starting very shortly and it is for young aspiring players in the communities.
“We instituted a career hub which is an alternative way of developing our players because we are trying to provide services to guide them in a direction that when they finish football, they will still have something to lean on. There is a lot to it, we are teaming up with some Universities for player development because that is our greatest resource. It is an alternative opportunity for players, in other words we are not only interested in on the field play but we are interested in the development of our players to make good citizens,” Harris explained.
Regarding the BFA Headquarters, Harris said phase three still has to be completed and that will commence in March of this year. He also shared that in due time the home of football in Barbados will be named after two prominent Barbadians footballers.
“We have a starting date for March for a grandstand, two more changing rooms, a gym and referees quarters and that would be phase three. After that we are also going to have dormitories that will accommodate 80 persons and that would be basically the end of the programme here for now. Then we will have funding to deal with technical areas and by then, if we have the academy, the talent development scheme, it means our football should be improving and then we can do more for our national teams and clubs,” the BFA said.
“In my first term, the executive committee made the decision to name it after two prominent players in Barbados. But obviously we are going to give it a name and hopefully whoever is the President of FIFA will come down and open it. But it will not named Pele,” Harris added.