The Barbados Football Association is once again stating its stance on out-of-season tournaments. Having come under fire for a decision taken concerning national players last year, BFA President Randy Harris is clearing the air.
Recently, the CFU Head and Concacaf Vice President explained that there was about to be a switch from a January start to an October-November start for the domestic season and that organisers would have to adjust to suit the situation “Out-of-season tournaments are just that – they are to be played out of season. We have made a switch because FIFA has laid down international playing days and those are for friendlies and tournaments and basically, the BFA, if it wants to improve its football, has to ensure that we are in line with our brothers and sisters internationally. It would mean that the regular time that they would have out-of-season tournaments would have to switch now at the end of the BFA season as normal.” he said.
Addressing the major concern of the public, President Harris was pointed as he made his case with regards to his issue with the tournaments stating that it was not the competition, but the players who counted themselves as available. “We can't have out-of-season being played while our national competitions are continuing so I would say that it is an adjustment. I just want to break a myth because I have been a purveyor of out-of-season competition and as President I speak for the board and we have no problem with out-of-season football tournaments. The thing is that what we are concerned about is that our national players – the players who represent Barbados – they are playing in a number of out-of-season tournaments. We have all our players fully insured and we want that when they are ready to play for Barbados, they are available and in good condition without any injuries. And that cannot be too hard to understand. I believe the country still comes first. We have no problem with out-of-season because they serve a purpose. But the thing is that we need to have some controls if we are to have football organised in a proper way.” he said.
With tournaments sometimes offering lucrative cash prizes, the view of many members of the public was that the Association was guilty of taking bread from a man's mouth. However, Harris dismissed the view “I think that is a load of nonsense because, how much is the bread? Why are we looking at now and we are not looking down the road when people should be making a living out of football. There must be some controls if we are to be successful. I am the President of the Football Association and I think differently now. I think differently because there is a vision and I believe that if we do things right, we will all benefit in the long run. Simple. But there is a place for out-of-season because it creates activity.”
With only the off-season open for these types of competitions, real estate is limited and this in turn leads to several of these tournaments being unsanctioned. Harris said that there was no real problem with this situation. “The BFA has in the past set out a time-frame for out-of-season. For all the years that I am aware of, we have allowed out—of-seasons to continue outside of that period, turning a blind eye. We have not taken any steps to prevent out-of-season or to give it any problems. But there must be a measure of control and our primary concern is with our national players. That is all it is.” he said