Column – Hear me Out – A telenovela is a Latin American serial drama that’s like a never-ending soap opera, with a plot more twisted than a pretzel and a cast that’s seemingly glued together.
Strangely enough, it’s a spot-on comparison of football in Barbados, especially when you’re focused on the senior men’s national team, except the only moving parts are the coaches but it has all the melodrama, and sometimes even more twists than a telenovela plot.
Football takes centre stage not just on the pitch, but also in the captivating off-field drama, where the real action unfolds.
It’s almost as if the coach’s chair is a revolving door, and often, the coach ends up being the one left standing without a seat.
Enter Orlando da Costa, the former head coach of the Barbados Tridents. According to a press issued by the Barbados Football Association (BFA) earlier this week, they bid farewell to da Costa on amicable terms when his contract clocked out.
But, let’s call a spade a spade, shall we? Football in Barbados, especially for the senior men’s national team, is in a state of organised chaos.
Even without 20/20 vision, you’d have to be Stevie Wonder himself not to see that da Costa’s departure had a lot to do with Barbados’ rocky performance in the Concacaf Nations League.
During the Portugese’s tenure, the Tridents conceded an astonishing 18 goals in just four matches. That’s more goals against them than a piñata at a birthday party!
Now, let’s take a trip down memory lane.
Since March 23, 2016, Barbados has played 46 matches, managing only nine wins and nine draws.
Zooming in on their Nations League escapades, since their debut in 2018, they’ve played 20 games, with 14 losses and just six victories.
To put it bluntly, in the past three years Barbados has won just three matches, spanning everything from World Cup Qualifiers to two rounds of the Nations League and six international friendlies.
Their lacklustre performance is translated in FIFA’s world ranking, which shows Barbados dropping from 144 in 2014 to a minnow-like 174 today.
The BFA’s coach shenanigans could give a telenovela a run for its money, and the senior men’s national team seems to have more head coaches than a chameleon has colour changes in a decade – a dazzling dozen to be exact!
It’s a real-life soap opera with a touch of “Coach Swap” – the reality show we never knew we needed.
Remember the fleeting Brazilian cameo of Marcos Falopa? He barely had time to unpack his sunscreen. Then there was the Somalian, Ahmed Mohamed Ahmed, who graced us with his presence for two whole years (2017-2019).
And let’s not forget Trinidad and Tobago’s legendary Russell Latapy (2019-2022), who experienced his fair share of blame, just like da Costa.
The sizzling query on everyone’s minds is, “When do we stop gazing at the stars and start examining the BFA’s playbook?”
The game of football in Concacaf has undergone a facelift, thanks to Canadian, Victor Montagliani, who, since taking the reins in 2016, has been preaching the gospel of “One Concacaf” and introduced the Concacaf Nations League in 2018.
This new game plan bid farewell to the Caribbean Football Union-organised Caribbean Cup and challenged teams to find their ‘A’ players.
Unfortunately, Barbados seemed to have missed the memo.
Today, football is a clash between the pros and the Sunday league heroes. The BFA, through its president, Randy Harris acknowledges this fact, but their bridgebuilding skills seem a bit rusty.
When it comes to domestic football in Barbados, it’s like playing scrabble with your grandparents – a delightful stroll down nostalgia lane, but you won’t be spelling out “Championship” anytime soon.
In all seriousness, it’s time to spice up the game and turn those triple-word scores into triple-threat opportunities for Barbados’ football future.
However, the reality is that Barbados is struggling to attract top-league international players who could give them an edge.
So, as much as we’d like to blame coaches, maybe it’s time to point the finger in another direction.
At this stage, even if the BFA managed to pull a rabbit out of a hat and summon Josep Guardiola, unless they’ve got a surprise up their sleeve and don’t serve him the same old system sandwich, the great Pep might be in for a reheated tragedy, like a Shakespearean play stuck in an endless loop.
Let’s hope the next episode in Barbados’ football saga brings a breath of fresh air and some wins to cheer about. [email protected]