The concerns and public discussions occasioned by the announcement last Saturday, of the local training squad for the St Vincent and the Grenadines senior men’s football team Vincy Heat, may seem like furore and bad times for the country’s most popular sport.
Much of the uproar with the naming of the squad, was the absence of some of the regulars. Notably, there was no selectee from Hope International, the 2019/2020 premier division champions and this country’s representative to this year’s CONCACAF Caribbean Club Shield.
In addition to the non-selection of the Hope International players, the squad of 23 included seven players who are deemed “for development purposes”.
Those who opposed the composition of the local training squad, argue that it was incongruous for those responsible for the choosing the players to tinker with the country’s football at the World Cup qualifiers, which is really and truly the premier competition for the senior national team.
So whilst one would understand the arguments and jittery responses to the team’s announcement, there are deeper realities which must be brought to the table.
St Vincent and the Grenadines are drawn against the likes of Cuba, Curacao, Guatemala and the British Virgin Islands in Group C of the qualifiers.
No matter how one wants to be optimistic and patriotic, the truth is, that except for the British Virgin Islands, the Vincentian outfit will start as second when matched up against the other three. That is just the stark actuality of where our football is.
Unfortunately though, much of the criticisms being aired are levelled at the present head coach, Kendale Mercury, for the decisions taken to go the route of selection.
Mercury will bear the brunt of the verbal whips; he will and has been made the scapegoat, the one who has been thrown under the bus.
But this is a result of a lack of a clear policy on the part of the secretariat of the St Vincent and the Grenadines Football Federation (SVGFF) to feed the football public, as well as the wider populace, on its plans and programmes for football.
Were the plans of the technical committee properly enunciated by the SVGFF’s secretariat and the policies which guide the selection of players for national outfits, the public spark that fired up last Saturday, surely would have had a different effect.
Had there been proper public relation protocols instituted, then one would have heard less of Mercury and more of the technical director and the vice- president, who possess the portfolio for technical matters.
To admit that we are not good enough or have not done enough developmental work that would ensure that any team selected to represent St Vincent and the Grenadines in the World Cup qualifiers, will give a good account of itself in the matches, is an indictment on the keepers of the sport.
Not only the current holders of the office, but those before, as they have all failed to structure and streamline our football.
Honestly, we should not be having this type of discussion in 2021, when St Vincent and the Grenadines got its first taste of what the World Cup qualifiers demands, some 29 years ago.
There and then in 1992, we realised that we were punching above our weight class. The discourse that took place and is ongoing, is all good, as it shows that many Vincentians are in tune with the sport and what is expected at the stage of World Cup qualification.
All who added their voices are aware of where we ought to be and what are some of the avenues to traverse to get to that point.
Therefore, emerging from the various ventilation of opinions and ranting by some; what has unequivocal, is a passion to see St Vincent and the Grenadines’ football advance and a proper developmental pathway pursued.
So the conversation has started, it is now for the policy makers and those who have the clout and the purse, to re-route our football to a juncture where we can be competitive and not just mere participants, who hope for the best.
Most significantly, the many heated football discussions that were in effect for the last week or so, should move to decisive action soonest.