Grenada Gold Cup 2011by Michael Bascombe

The news off the field of play have been fast developing over the past few weeks especially with the FIFA probe into alleged bribery and the eventual resignation of Jack Warner as a FIFA Vice President as well as the head of the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association
Football (CONCACAF) and the Caribbean Football Union (CFU).

The Grenada Football Association is yet to provide clarity on its involvement in the ongoing probe and this could affect its future relationship with the business community.

Likewise, the feedback from my latest commentary “Some positives from the Gold Cup” has been very informative – for and against.

Let me state that I have no issues with our local football coaches but I have problems with the hypocrisy among some of the coaches when they are not in charge of the national team.

There are always suggestions about forming a coaches’ association whenever they are not given the nod as head coach of the national team. But then nothing happens after the dust is settled.

I am convinced that whether the team is coached by a Brazilian, German, Spaniard or even a local official, the results will be the same unless there is a change in the commitment by our players and

The time has come for a new thinking among football administrators in Grenada about their vision for the development of football. Over the years there have been sprinkled discussions about the establishment of a Professional Football League in Grenada.

The time is now

In the 1990s Grenville-based businessman Rudy Walker invested in the R.E. Walker Nationals which participated in the Caribbean Major League Football (CMLF). The likes of Steve Mark, Jason Francois, and others played against some of the top Caribbean teams including Lambada of Barbados, Hairoun Lions from St Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinity Pros and Caledonia A.I.A. from Trinidad and Tobago and C.C. Lions and Harbour View of Jamaica. Spice Nationals later joined the league as another franchise from Grenada.

I am aware of two persons – Selwin Noel and Lester Smith – who have had immense experience in the Caribbean Professional League and could provide the Grenada Football Association (GFA) with valuable information about their experiences and particularly their involvement with the R.E. Walker

R.E. Walker Nationals’ participation in the CMLF was a pilot project aimed at jump starting the process in Grenada but unfortunately no one pursued the idea. It didn’t cost Mr Walker much at the time since the team received jerseys, boots, and finance from the franchise holders. Most of the players on the team were paid a few hundred dollars per game including additional incentives for goal scorers. Importantly, a system was in place for the operation of the franchise.

Unlike, the popular Waggy-T Football Tournament where teams craved for the big dollars, the Pro League requires a proper structure administered by a separate entity under the auspices of the GFA.

The structure involves team management, technical and training committees, coach and assistant coach, team doctor, chiropractor, massage therapist and even a director of operations or tickets depending on your home field. Some of the services including medical could be contracted and
required on a needs basis.

The teams in the Pro League ought to have a professional outlook – a no nonsense approach to playing football.

We can explore the possibility of businesses which have had long association with sports – C.K. Sylvester and Independence Agencies; Kent Joseph and his group of companies; Peter Andall and Andall and Associates; Tillock Distributors, and others – putting their labels behind teams as franchise holders.

The new sports policy (awaiting Parliamentary approval and enactment) provides for tax credits and other fiscal incentives to the private sector in recognition of monies spent on supporting national athletes and technical officials, including time off with pay, for duties related to national representation. This could also be extended to their involvement in the Pro League.

The players in the league are expected to be paid to train and play football with the same rules governing the public and private sectors.

For example, they report for training at 8:00 a.m. and leave at 4:00 p.m. following a structured programme including physical and mental preparations.

These footballers should consider this as a career and should walk proudly in their various communities and be role models for younger footballers to aspire.

A system could be used to rate their performances after each year to see whether there’s any potential and this also means drafting in other recruits to keep a high level of competitiveness among the players.

The end product of the local Pro League should provide a feeding ground for your national senior team as well as opportunities for transfers to other professional leagues. In addition to the exposure and skill development the Pro League will present, having a Premier League, and First, Second, Youth and Women Divisions running parallel will provide for additional opportunities for a wider pool of players.

I am challenging the GFA and its affiliates to begin to think outside of the box. Be innovative and creative because that is what the football environment requires now. Consider the private sector as a partner in the development of football and not a competitor or an external football executive.

Undertake an immediate feasibility study of the Pro Leagues within the CONCACAF region at various levels and put a blue print in place to present to the business community tailored to economy of scale. This will present a clear picture from which these businesses can develop a business plan for fiscal budgeting based on capital investment and Return on Investment (ROI).

I hope there isn’t a repeat of the drama between the GFA and R.E. Walker Nationals in the 1990s when the association refused to approve the team’s request to participate in the CMLF. It took the intervention of CFU’s Harold Taylor to settle the matter.


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