September 13, 2011
Football Federation gearing up

Tue, Sept 13. 2011

The St. Vincent and the Grenadines Football Federation is now in full gear, on a twin-track course consisting of the qualifying stages for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, as well as elections for a new Executive, scheduled for the next two weeks.{{more}} Both are critically important activities and pursuing them simultaneously will severely test the mettle of the local footballing community, the leadership in particular.

The leadership election has tended to distract attention away from the World Cup qualifying thrust, and a big elections campaign, in the local media and of course among the footballers themselves, is already under way. The campaign is typical of the times in which we now live, with ambitious would-be Presidents publicly extolling their virtues, each accompanied by a slate of chosen lieutenants.

The football scenario is not unique in local sporting terms. As the stakes get bigger, because of international affiliations and competitions, funding possibilities etc, so do the intensity of the rivalry at the top and the incentives to seek leadership positions. Almost all of the sporting bodies today experience this, mirroring what happens at the local political level. It has its positives in at least forcing potential leaders to “reveal their hand”, in putting forward what are virtual mini-manifestos, outlining their plans for the development of the particular sporting discipline.

How then do affiliate clubs, athletes make their choices for leaders? Examining the plans advanced is one aspect, but as in national elections, there is the need for reality checks, in order to separate over-ambition from what is realistically achievable. The difficulty is compounded by the fact that, often, the affiliates themselves are not in a state of organisation which allows for democratic discussion and decision-making at the club level to determine choices. In such situations, leadership or influential cliques hold sway, sometimes bargaining with leading contenders for rewards in the event of success at the polls.

The juncture at which the Football Federation is now placed is a trying one. Still unresolved or swept under the carpet is the FIFA bribery scandal, which seems not to have had much traction in local football circles. Will it become an issue in the leadership battle? The World Cup qualifiers is another critical matter as well, as to where emphasis should be placed. Getting results in current competitions or a development plan for the future?

There are no easy solutions, no ready-made prescriptions. It is imperative that, given the popularity of football in SVG and its high profile as the flag-bearer of national sporting ambitions, the leadership elections in the Football federation be handled with maturity and with the best interests of not just football, but sports development in St.Vincent and the Grenadines at heart. Good luck to the Federation and its would-be leaders!