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A tight spot

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The Organising Committee of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Football Federation’s National Lotteries Authority National Club Championships has found itself between a rock and a hard place.{{more}}

Certainly, one has to be sympathetic with the guys as they endeavour to stage this year’s competition, but some criticism is justified, as they are seemingly leaving things to meander into nothingness.

Some sympathy is deserved, as many do not seem to grasp the concept that club Football is the way to go, and we have to start somewhere to address the amateur status and gradually move towards professionalisation.

On the other hand, what is being done to make the public aware that there is such a competition taking place?

There is no ready access to the results, and the SVGFF website should be closed down as it really is not serving any purpose, other than to say they have such a facility.

The club championships are competing with the various leagues across the state for facilities, players and spectators’ attention.

It must be hard on the players to put on a good show in the presence of just a few spectators, as what I saw recently at the Victoria Park.

The place was practically empty, as only the players, match officials and about a dozen fans were there, and they, too, were more concerned with local socio political developments instead of the match that was in progress.

So the dance can’t pay for the light, as match officials have to be paid, and other overhead expenses have to be met.

In comparison, the Sion Hill Village competition for example, because of its homogeneity, easily attracts 400 persons daily, albeit they enter “hobie class”, as admission is free.

The same can be said for the Belfongo Nine-A-Side competition, and the Biabou Football League, which are not full fledged leagues, but basically organized sweat matches, with a high community social value added.

Therefore, this leaves spectators and players alike to gravitate to these out of season leagues, get a full diet of entertainment, and everyone is happy.

Sadly, this does not transfer to the national sphere.

But the current Executive has not been too creative, as they retain the notion that the best footballers must only exert their talents at Victoria Park and Arnos Vale One, which arguably are the best surfaces.

This may be so, but if the people are not coming, then you may just have to bite the bullet and carry the sport to them.

The SVGFF has been able to land a deal with local television station, SVGTV, to televise live, each Sunday, the “Game of the Week”.

This is a milestone in local Football coverage, but with empty stands and not too good a product, will make a mockery of the effort, and defeat the good intent and marketing opportunity.

It will not hurt the sport if some of the Premier Division matches are taken to the rural areas, such as the Chilli Playing Field, which is now enclosed, where some revenue can be had (more than at Victoria Park), but where, most of all, the players will get some morale support, as they are certain to get spectators on hand.

Additionally, the national players will be able to make a name for themselves, and become drawing cards, when international matches come to town.

In trying to sell the idea that club Football is the way to go, the SVGFF personnel must tread with caution, as the league Football system is embedded in many Vincentians, and any draconian measures, such as closing down league Football, altogether, will surely be met with a brick wall of opposition.

The two can co-exist, with careful thought and guidelines.

The Executive of the SVGFF’s best bet, while aiming at the professionalisation of clubs, parallel its efforts, by encouraging the re-emergence of community based outfits, as they readily have a fan base.

In the current National Club Championships, only Avenues possesses any following of note.

The other clubs/teams are not from any particular locale, hence persons cannot identify with them.

So let us go back to the drawing board, and get Football back as the “Game of the People”.

But the Mound at the Sion Hill Playing Field does not hold such acclaim.

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