by Michael Bascombe

ST GEORGE’S, June 23, 2017 – When officials of the Windward Islands Football Association (WIFA) meet during the Men’s Football Tournament in Grenada next week, a proposed tournament for member federations of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) will be among discussions.

This year’s Men’s WIFA Tournament has already included Barbados as an invitational team and there are plans to extend this collaboration, according to President of the Grenada Football Association (GFA), Cheney Joseph.

“The presidents of WIFA are desirous of introducing the competition to include Under-14 for boys and girls in order to have a two-year preparation for the CONCACAF tournament,” he told GrenadaSports.

“Additionally, we are seeking to engage our OECS member associations in discussions to expand it (tournament) to also include Martinique and Guadeloupe”.

Joseph said the absence of the OECS Sports Desk has created a void in competitive sports in the sub-region and football is also affected. The GFA president said that there are no competitions besides qualifying tournaments at CONCACAF and Caribbean Football Union (CFU).

“Once discussions are held with our colleagues in the sub-region, we believe it will provide the impetus for an OECS Invitational Tournament involving possibly the French neighbouring territories. It’s merely a vision at this time to fill the gap left by the absence of an OECS Sports Desk,” said Joseph.

Joseph understands the challenges facing football associations in the sub-region but is hopeful that players, administrators, fans and the corporate community will support such an initiative.

“Football in this region is still far from a professional structure despite the abundance of talents in these territories. Scouting and potential professional contract may be realised. The member associations need to see the greater good in developing sports as a business. It’s time we move away from the fun and recreational approach. Football is big business all over the world. Look at what is happening now in China,” he quipped.

Joseph, who has been at the helm of the GFA since 2010 and as vice president between 1998 and 2008, said that his colleagues in the Windward Islands are committed to the WIFA Tournament and he intends to initiate the discussions this weekend.

“At least the four WIFA presidents are already on board with the idea and I am certain the others will see merit in pursuing. Hopefully at the CFU Men’s final in Martinique this weekend we can start a meaningful dialogue,” he said.

The WIFA Men’s Football Tournament kicks off on Wednesday with a double-header at the Kirani James Athletic Stadium. St Lucia plays St Vincent and The Grenadines followed by Grenada against Dominica.

Barbados debuts against Dominica on Friday in the first of a double-header at Fond Playing Field in St Patrick while St Lucia plays the host in the evening game.

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