The decision by the executive of the St Vincent and the Grenadines Football Federation to pull the female Under-17 team from the CONCACAF qualifiers this month in Bradenton, Florida, USA, came as a surprise to some local football lovers.
It can be considered now water under the bridge, as the die has been cast and St Vincent and the Grenadines will not be participating in the qualifiers in Group B, where the Vincentian team was set to face Barbados, Curacao and Belize.
But the decision cannot be slighted, as the pronouncement of the men and women charged with charting St Vincent and the Grenadines’ football will have far-reaching effects.
This, as players who have been training for the better part of two months now, would have been shell-shocked, disappointed, crest-fallen and deflated, as for many it was potentially their maiden tour as well as their first outing on a St Vincent and the Grenadines female football team.
Therefore, one should not trivialize the events of the last week and deem it unfortunate, as it has far-reaching effects on the young impressionable minds, who were the recipients of the bad news.
Of significance too, is the psycho–social being of these young ladies, which must be addressed as soon as possible, as it could spell detrimental on the future of female football, which is trying to build a base for itself.
Additionally, there is a conspicuous thrust by the sport’s governing body, to have female football gather prominence, hence their increased injection of funds into that component.
Having said that, one may not want to second guess the decision of the executive, and readily dismiss the talk making the rounds. It is being rumoured that the executive decision was one of cost cutting on one hand, hence it was a blessing for them to conjure up the reason.
On the other, it is being advanced that the executive lacked confidence in the ability of girls who were set to make the final cut, so it was better to find a plausible excuse not to travel to the USA.
These arguments on the streets, though, have been debunked by the release from the SVGFF, which explained that the decision to pull the lasses from the tournament was “Due to the ongoing global health situation, the substantial increase of COVID-19 cases, both locally and globally, and with due considerations to the extensive quarantine periods associated with the planned engagement”.
However, was it the right decision in the circumstances? Was it premature? Could there have been further options explored before pulling the rug under the fickle feet of the aspiring young female footballers?
More so, have our football administrators set the tone and precedence for future occurrences?
Whilst it was the first such decision taken during the period since the pandemic, it must be reminded that this country’s Under-20 female team had travelled to Curacao for a similar engagement.
As it stands presently, the Under-20 male team is hastily preparing for the CONCACAF qualifiers in the Dominican Republic next month. Should anything go awry during the team’s build-up for the sojourn, will it be a case of following suit as was done with the Under-17 females?
Football may or may not have taken the best decision a week ago, but in general our sports administrators have to be more circumspect, detailed and reflective. They ought to be mindful that whilst we here are throwing our hands up in the air and blaming the pandemic, others in the region are being creative, innovative and are having their national teams participate in regional and international tournaments.
Ironically, this is against the reality that our Covid-19 situation is not as bad as the others in the Caribbean who are going full steam ahead with their respective sporting disciplines.
Covid will be around with us for a while, hence we cannot be cowering forever in the shadows and fears of the pandemic.
St Vincent and the Grenadines’ football and other sporting disciplines must find ways to be relevant and keep sports in an active state; doing so with caution and with the nation’s health as paramount.
Things around the world are not normal, but life has to go on, inclusive of sports.