The events of the past weeks in national football have put the sport in a bad light. As such, those who are at the forefront of sport’s national administration, have become cannon fodder for others who have always been critical of them.
Whilst there have been some issues brewing, the failure to secure the necessary US entry visas for some members of the senior national team to travel to the Fort Lauderdale, last Wednesday, became the straw which broke the proverbial back.
As it is, St Vincent and the Grenadines will field a depleted team for today’s CONCACAF Gold Cup qualifier against Haiti at the DRK PNK Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
In fact, only 13 players will be available for today’s encounter. This is compounded by the absence of no goalkeepers.
Despite the reasons which might be conjured up by the local football authorities, it was an administrative faux pas that will be considered inexcusable to many.
This last issue of the visas and consequently, the depleted team, have coincided with a down turn in the sport, as the senior men’s team is not doing well on the field and there are no active football competitions taking place locally.
But what this column has identified as the most instructive in the current melee, are the allegations made by the members of the senior team, who have formed themselves into a “Players Group”.
They too have joined the fray, spewing discontentment about their alleged mistreatment by the executive of the St Vincent and the Grenadines Football Federation (SVGFF).
Outside of the executive, the players group has taken a swipe at the head coach Kendale Mercury, as well as jabbing the technical committee of the SVGFF, and has deemed interim manager Renson Haynes as unfit for the job. They have also reiterated the strained relationship between Mercury and Haynes.
It is noteworthy that the players are now questioning the style of play as instituted by the head coach, Mercury.
They are also having issues with the head coach’s decision to have a balanced blend of young and experienced players in the team.
According to the players, this “must be looked at as the current structure has hampered our progress”.
Maybe, these responses by the players are exasperations of the poor results on the field in recent times.
But how quickly things have changed. Two years ago, to be exact, many of the players who are now being ridiculed by the football public, were seen then as our modern national football heroes.
Similarly, head coach, Mercury, was hailed as the Messiah of national football. Today, he is being made into the biblical Barrabas.
Like anything else, that is the nature of human beings, praise you today and despite you tomorrow.
But let us for a while spare a thought for the 13 players who will put their hands up today and represent St Vincent and the Grenadines in Florida. The odds are stacked against them, as they would be physically and mentally drained, knowing that they are at a numerical disadvantage.
More so, the lack of preparation ahead of today’s encounter, arriving in the USA less than 48 hours before kick-off, would definitely be playing on the young players’ minds.
One expects the heat to be turned up, should the team be mauled by Haiti today. Then the next chapter of public condemnations will be levelled at all and sundry.
Whatever is the result of today’s match versus Haiti, it cannot be business as usual with all the stakeholders, as better can be and must be done going forward.
The executive of the SVGFF must take the criticisms on the chin and stand up to the onslaught that will be thrown at them.
Football has been and will always be a combative sport, and being hauled over the coals for transgressions is part of the compensation for offering oneself as a public figure.
Hopefully, the recent events, public discourses and other analyses of St Vincent and the Grenadines’ football, would allow for changes in attitudes all round, as we all strive to build the “Game of the People”.