The right way forward with our football
This article synthesises the thoughts and specific outlook of a group of persons who have entered into purposeful consideration of the highly fruitful potential and useful possibilities available to Dominica's football in sphere of the twenty-first century. It is at a time when elections to the executive board of the Dominica Football Association lies only five days away, and incidentally connects with a grave era in world football affairs when the global public sees the matter of transparency as important to development in the world's most popular sport.
Evidence coming from the last two match engagements involving our national football team revealed two very clear conclusions. Firstly, our football public is seriously enthusiastic about its desire to support Dominica's efforts on the field of play. Accordingly, about three thousand turned out to see the matches against the British Virgin Islands and close to seven thousand came out to see the Canadians. The second conclusion is that the public was distinctly unhappy with the standard of performance of our team.
Performances against B.V.I were bad enough, but in the educated sense not easily noticed by those not skilled in the pure elements of technical issues pertaining to competitive football. Very fortunately the revelations exposed by Canada have allowed a magnifying glass to be applied towards a clearer understanding of what a decent standard of play entails. Bluntly, the Canadians are not a high quality team in terms of World Cup qualifying entity. However, having said this, they were enough to expose glaring deficiencies in our senior national men's team.
It was not an inaccurate assessment that the ball possession factor in the first half was lopsided 80% to 20% in the visitor's favour. The impression given was that of our team looking upon a situation of closed doors without having any of the keys to attempt to unlock them. This is not an indictment of the players. Contrary to coaching pronouncements given before the match, our players were nowhere nearly prepared for the engagement -- not in skill, not in fitness, not in tactical approaches commensurate with problems posed by their opponents. This ought never to be the case, which fuller collaborated what the five man delegation from Canada saw when spying on the two B.V.I matches here.
What also must be computed into the match analysis was the bare fact we played the last twenty minutes or thereabout with Canada having ten men after their goalkeeper was sent off for handling the ball just outside his penalty area during a defence error. The numerical advantage never indeed materialised and it is pretty certain not many spectators even realised the true essence of the situation when the critical substitution was effected.
Given the endemic weaknesses existing in our football over the last twenty years, it is not surprising that a group of concerned citizens has committed itself to a dedicated involvement towards rehabilitating our football through and through.
What was observable against Canada is very much the tip of the iceberg. The root causes are hidden in the 90% below the water surface and have to be brought to light before any progress becomes possible. Hence, as an imperative I allow my discussions specifically with Joffre Faustin to take due centre-stage.
Mr. Faustin, a former national coach and retired sports officer and national player, is seeking the DFA executive position of Youth Officer in the upcoming elections. He sees the absolute need for adequate systems and methods of training to be made available right at the formative phases of developing our youth footballers, both boys and girls. Faustin has benefitted from training with a professional football club in France and is a pioneer in establishing the first ever football academy (New Town Juvenile Football Academy) in Dominica based at New Town Savannah. He sees it as fundamental for the resources of the DFA to be expeditiously applied to strenuously lifting the standards of the local academies well beyond their current capacities.
Robertson "Cocoshoo" Hypolite, who like Faustin knows what has been a much better standard for Dominica Football both at club and national levels has his eyes on election as the DFA Second Vice-President, a position he thinks ought not to be merely that of a figurehead. Instead, he angles to work assiduously to produce high powered football talent right out of the cradle, having himself being a veritable prodigy. Hypolite banks on enabling the schools to blossom forth as hot-houses of football talent and to bring community support back into the game.
A candidate for the essential position of D.F.A First Vice-President is Michael "Big Joe" Joseph. His outlook in "The Way Forward Team" is geared towards the D.F.A according Dominica's footballers every opportunity to achieve development and elevation of their standards to bring them into advantageous positions for recruitment to respectable professional clubs in the metropolitan countries. Mr. Joseph has instituted contacts with a number of overseas clubs and is endeavouring to activate these contacts profitably for our talented youngsters. He, like other members of The Way Forward Team, has his sights on the development here of a Semi-Professional League in a few years time.
Any credible and effective team needs quality leadership and that's where the prospective D.F.A President arises in the person of Ibraheim Broheim. Mr Broheim, known to the Dominica public as the SIGN MAN, puts forward the sign that the DFA will be a sign of all business and no fooling around. His football background links to a qualified football referee and team sponsor. In several meetings with our football teams he is moved by the declaration that they are for the first time being reached by a comprehensive football development message. This message, Broheim says, will be fully concretized and will be sustained through regular meetings with the clubs island-wide.
Delroy Williams, as prospective DFA Public Relations Officer, arrives on The Way Forward Team with background as Secretary of the Dominica National Youth Council. It is an act of faith with him to revolutionise the post of PRO which has been in complete default in the context of football development in Dominica which clearly begs for the impetus of vibrancy and vigour.
Other members of The Way Forward Team seeking election include Shawn Martin electable to the post of Assistant Secretary/ Treasurer, Sabrina Bully who already is active in Women's and Youth Football, Jeffrey Edmund, former national captain of highly progressive leadership skills, Martin Lockhart who has been instrumental in developing football in the South East of Dominica, the last three electable to positions of DFA Committee Members. There are several other persons forming part and parcel of The Way Forward Team: Justin Nibbs, potential D.F.A Secretary, Egbert Jno Baptiste, Youth and Schools Activator, Don Leogal and Reynold Gustave, Football Academy Mentors and your humble servant Reginald St. H. Shillingford with an understating and passion for Dominica football to return to its former glory and beyond.