This year’s Premier League is set to be full of surprises when it kicks off tomorrow at the Barbados Football Association’s Wildey Turf.
With a lot of shifts between players and coaches, the race will be on to see who can outrun and outkick reigning champions Barbados Defence Force Sports Programme (BDFSP).
President Randy Harris said he was looking to possibly the most exciting season of the BFA in a while.
“I have noticed the movement of players from one club to another and also I have noticed the effort of some of our clubs to bring players from the other Caribbean islands, which I think can only be a great thing for Barbados football,” he said.
This weekend the Premier League begins with two triple headers. On Saturday, recent promotes Wotton, Silver Sands and Deacons will make their debut.
First out the blocks, Wotton who will go up against Brittons Hill, followed by Deacons and Silver Sands, while Empire and Notre Dame will cap off the night.
Then on Sunday, Paradise will face Scotty’s Car Rentals St Andrew Lions, followed by Ellerton and reigning champions Barbados Defence Force Sports Programme (BDFSP) before Weymouth Wales and UWI Blackbirds round off the night.
Harris noted that the format of the FA’s flagship competition had reverted to the original format.
“It makes no sense continuing to do something that both our members and the public at large are not happy with. We’ve reverted to the traditional way of the Premier League and we’re hoping, based on the feedback that we’re getting, that things would be much better and more exciting in 2020,” he said.
He added that they had tried the two-zone format for two years and it had not achieved what the BFA intended.
“First of all the clubs weren’t very happy with the format. That spun off to the fans and those are the people we are trying to satisfy. We’ve decided to go back to the traditional way of leagues with all 12 teams playing each other in two rounds. At the end of the season, we are demoting four teams and only two will be promoted. That cuts down the Premier League in 2021 to ten teams instead of 12.
“We’re trying to cut down the number of teams playing at the highest level. Before there were ten teams but because we had the two zones, to make it worthwhile we had to increase the number of teams playing. If we want our Premier League to be of the highest quality we have to reduce the number of teams,” he said,
The long-standing administrator said the decision was made by the executive after consultation with member clubs.
“The BFA now is the BFA. It isn’t the executive with the players out there and the clubs over here. We want to move together. We discuss everything we want to do with our members. That works very well. When we discuss with them, they might have good ideas and may even be able to enhance the many projects that we want to do,” he said.
Some of the shifts which include coaches and players will see Renaldo “Pee Wee’ Gilkes suiting up as Head Coach for Wales, taking over from Thomas Jordon.
Meanwhile, Paradise has lost players in Chai Lloyd and Mario “Bagga” Williams, who will also be sporting the Green Machine’s (Wales) uniform this year. However, they have gained players in UWI’s Mario Harte and Tito Beckles, Empire’s Jabari “Pappy” Chandler and Kick Start’s Nicoli Brathwaite.
Other players making a switch from Paradise include Paul Doughty and Steven Griffith to Wotton, Demar Linton to Silver Sands, and Dario “Ears” Harewood and Rakim Lashley to Ellerton
Captain of the Yellow Submarines (Paradise), Armando “Sugar” Lashley said they were looking to take all titles this year.
“This year we’re looking to win all three cups; the Knockout, the League and the Reserve. We have about 30 men at training on average. We have a good squad so anybody gets injuries they could be replaced easily,” he said, adding that he was looking to score at least 30 goals this season.
Similarly, last year’s Premier League champions BDFSP’s midfielder and national captain Rashad Jules said the team had refocused and was also looking to make a clean sweep while they retained their squad from last year.
“We stumbled a bit throughout the League and in Capelli Cup. We won the tournament and the knockouts and stuff, but the main objective for us this year is to take everything,” he said.
Some changes over at Wales will see Riviere Williams and Jason King head over to Deacons, while Arantees Lawrence has gone over to the St Andrew Lions and Notre Dame’s Rico Graham, demoted teams Youth Milan’s Kemar Chase and Porey Spring’s Shaquille Stewart will all join the Carrington Village side.