Thursday 22 August, 2019

Argentina and the Caribbean join forces

A sporting and cultural milestone was achieved last Thursday evening at the Barbados Football Association (BFA) Headquarters.

A number of regional and international administrators were present to witness the historical signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Argentine Football Association (AFA) and the BFA as well as the Caribbean Football Union (CFU).

President of the BFA and CFU Randy Harris welcomed Ambassador of Argentina to Barbados, Gustavo Martinez Pandianni and his countryman Executive Director of the AFA Gerardo Leon, Chairman of the National Sports Council (NSC) Mr. MacDonald Fingall, and representatives from FIFA and Concacaf, along with football presidents from across the region.

There was the notable absence of Harris’ Argentine counterpart Claudio “Chiqui” Tapia who missed his flight to Barbados for reasons beyond his control according to Ambassador Pandianni.

The evening’s event was to provide the finishing touches to a conversation and idea which was shared between Presidents Harris and Tapia in December 2018 in Buenos Aires, when the national U17 boys team traveled to Argentina for a preparation camp.

Pandianni said the tour served its purpose and more as the performances on and off the field by the players and administrators brought great pride and delight.

The ambassador explained that the agreement between Argentina and the Caribbean will provide for exchanges of all football-related personnel and will include a package for equipment and facilities.

Pandianni said that the process has been easy thus far, but the greatest challenge is the next move.

“We will sign the agreement but the challenge for all of us is to start thinking together about how we can make this geographical gap from Barbados to Argentina a reality.  How we can put our people together”, said the ambassador.

It was recently announced that Pandianni will take up responsibility for St Lucia, St Kitts & Nevis and Dominica, therefore making the event a timely one; one in which Pandianni believes would be the adhesive of the region.

“I don’t think I have to be the representative of my government to your government only, but of my people to your people as well.

Football together with all sports and other cultural expressions are the best paths to put our people together”.

Pandianni’s sentiments were echoed by a passionate Fingall who said sports posses the power to develop individuals and nations via national identity.

“There must be a consciousness, a national consciousness, so that we may understand who we are and what we are about and along with this consciousness comes a national confidence that we can believe in ourselves and know that we can achieve whatever we put our minds to”, said the NSC Chairman.

Gerardo Leon said the opportunity was a wonderful one as it allowed him to get a vivid picture of the status of Caribbean football and the AFA are looking forward to working productively with the nations of the region to improve all aspects of the game so that the global standard of football can improve.

The happiest man in the room was President Harris as he smiled continuously throughout the event and he declared that his happiness was due to the possibilities that exist out of this union for young people specifically.

“Recently we been having lots of problems with our young people and I think football is one of the areas that we can do a lot to make these people feel good about themselves.

We can provide employment away from the traditional ways of employment and we can do a lot for our young people in the Caribbean”, Harris said.

The CFU boss said the signing of the MOU is a clear indicator of the maturity of football in the region and the partnership will propel the steady growth of football throughout the Caribbean as he believes that the South Americans possess the personnel and the know-how to execute such action.

Harris pleaded to all Barbadians (football and non-football) specifically to assist in any form or fashion along the journey of football development.


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