Sports Commentary: A goal rush for Vincie football riches

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Robertson S. Henry is a regional sports journalist and photographer

By Robertson S. Henry

The July 3, 2018, announcement by FIFA of the worldwide two-year ban, of former St Vincent and the Grenadines Football Federation president Venold Coombs, is being seen as a blessing in disguise by some persons. Name after name is being sprouted as a suitable replacement for the disgraced former football executive.

Over the past years, a number of those persons whose names are being touted as possible suitable replacements, failed to do what was critically needed to bring out the changes the administration of the game demanded in St Vincent and the Grenadines.

Some of them failed to prove sincerity and commitment when they did not advise the clubs of their rights and privileges under the constitution of the St Vincent and the Grenadines Football Federation, a document which in itself is in dire need of revisiting, amending, and modernising. The historic haste in the passage of this document, was aided and abetted by a gullible SVGFF executive at the time, to accommodate a foot soldier of a former CONCACAF boss to harm one of their own, is one of the highest forms of treachery.

Today, those former SVGFF executive officers who were so accommodating to this acolyte, are shouting from the hilltops, accusing the current SVGFF executive of complicity. Have they conveniently forgotten their complicity in the passage in 2003 of the current St Vincent and the Grenadines Football Federation’s constitution, which was brought in overnight from Trinidad, for a reading and adoption the very next day, just to see the back of the then general-secretary?

Today, those former SVGFF executive officers have somehow, somewhere washed their bloody hands with a mixture of bleach and chlorine, showing seemingly clean hands to the public, but a forensic examination would undercover the blood and deceit beneath the skins of those hands.

Others were pleaded with to come in and assist the SVGFF, but they refused citing employment in some instances, and not having the energy to wage a battle with the former president over decisions taken, in other instances.

If these persons were unable to assist then, what has changed which has caused them to suddenly have all that it takes to serve? Why are they so hell-bent on having the current executive removed, when the records of those self-serving persons are questionable?

Had those persons accepted the offer to work, there is the very distinct possibility many of the issues currently plaguing the Vincentian football administration, would be non-existent. Many of those club administrators have and continue to operate their clubs by word of mouth as was done in the past, which worked then, but is non-applicable in today’s world of sports administration.

Then there is the other group of persons who did not have a voice then, accepted balls, and other pieces of equipment, kept quiet in the process, but today have found the long lost vocal batteries to find fault in those who had the courage to do what they themselves did not have the gonads to do? Those same persons sat in front of the former president, asking for handouts; hearing no evil, seeing no evil, speaking no evil.

How can those persons in all honesty, have the courage to speak today of administrative wrongs in football when they saw nothing wrong in the past when they were collecting trinkets?

How many of them ran and continue to run their organisation like a one man show – chief cook, bottle washer, and cashier. The weaknesses being experienced over the years by the St Vincent and the Grenadines Football Federation, is the lack of administrative capacity amongst the affiliates clubs. Over the years, too many persons were voted unto the national executive without the experience of working within a constitutional framework in an organisation.

Those present day conveniently concerned football interests have failed in many instances to hold regular meetings with their members. They did not see the need to have a constitution drafted for their club, and to have properly constituted executive committee and other standing committees in place, nor had a working development plan for their organisation prepared.

Then there are also those who received monies from various private sector interests for football and football related-activities in their communities, but has never produced an expense account to these same private sector interests, informing them how their sponsorship and or investment monies were spent.

What level of professionalism can these persons bring to the table of the SVGFF administration? They who failed to properly develop their clubs now want to dictate the operations of the St Vincent and the Grenadines Football Federation executive committee.

There are those few football officials in St Vincent and the Grenadines who time and time again at meetings, asked relevant questions, only for them and their clubs to be penalised for those questions. Many of these football officials have made strides in developing their clubs within the guidelines as laid down by FIFA, and globally accepted, established practices.

Sitting in one’s air-conditioned office for many years, not being part of the development of football is not a prerequisite to attain the top office of the sport. How can someone who have been so divorced from the game, can say I have a track record, I have a product to sell.

Will the players and other administrators have any confidence in such an individual, to take the game forward? Can he change the culture of men seeking handouts instead of conscientiously developing their club? Will he be able to stop those self-seekers from turning a blind eye to the critical needs of the organisation?

The current executive should be governing and not paying attention to the dog-fight being waged out there by many men who are seeking self-aggrandizement, and not the positive development of the game.

It is the general perception that the current executive committee comprises the necessary talents and skill sets when it comes to the development of the sport. After all the current executive comprises of individuals who through their selfless contribution to the sport in their various communities are seen as community leaders. However that does not mean they can do it alone, or they should continue with the status quo.

Now that the current executive is rid of the overbearing presence of the former president, they should be formulating plans to utilise the many programmes, resources, and facilities available through FIFA and CONCACAF.

Whether they like it or not, the onus is upon them now that they have been rid of that problem, they should begin cleaning up house, thereby proving to the affiliate clubs, the nation at large, and the regional and international footballing community that they the executive of the St Vincent and the Grenadines Football Federation, are capable of doing what has long been overdue.

They should be putting in place the administrative structures and mechanisms as demanded by FIFA, CONCACAF, the incorporation Act of St Vincent and the Grenadines under which the SVGFF was incorporated many years ago; and established global practices, towards benefitting all affiliate clubs.

The executive needs to review all various standing committees and their efficiency, the operations of the various departments such as technical, finance, media, marketing, and the overall performance of the general-secretary. An ethics and governance committee is critically needed, not just to guide the executive committee, but also to help in the governance of all of the affiliate clubs.

They should also be focussed on fine-tuning the preparation of the national senior men and women teams for regional engagements starting in September 2018, which included the Nations League, and the WIFA Senior Men and Senior Women Football tournaments, respectively.

They should review now, the many administrative shortcomings brought about by years of a governance malady, by ensuring that the persons brought in to fill the critical positions, are positively productive and not a liability.

It is one thing to be complaining of administrative obstacles in one’s away, but once that obstacle has been removed, then there should be no more complaints, but an onward drive towards the fulfilment of a goal, long desired by all, for the benefit of all.

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