President of the Generation Next Football Club (GNFC) Ricky Santos says it is unrealistic to expect the Antigua and Barbuda Football Association (ABFA) alone to develop all aspects of the sport in the country.
Santos made this declaration in light of his organisation’s plan to resume its annual Gomez/Netherlands Insurance Youth League which was started by GNFC in 2015.
Like many other activities, it was suspended when the COVID-19 pandemic emerged.
The league, which accommodates boys and girls from Under-7 to Under-17, is set to resume on Saturday, 28th January.
Although the ABFA is the governing body of the sport in Antigua and Barbuda, Santos said all member clubs, including Generation Next FC, must play their role in the promotion, growth and development of football in the nation.
“To be quite frank, I think it’s a lot to ask the ABFA to do everything. I know the ABFA has its shortcomings and I know many of people like to blast them, including myself from time to time, but at the end of the day, to ask one organisation to do all the work is unrealistic.
“We all have to step in and do our little part, and at Generation Next, we are trying to do our small, little endeavours in part to assist the youngsters in developing.”
Over the last 10 years, there has been a proliferation of youth football academies developed by many clubs and individuals who have answered the call to introduce the sport to young people.
While this development is encouraging, enough competitions have not been organised to engage the youngsters and promote their development.
This was a major factor which drove GNFC’s decision to start the Gomez/Netherlands Insurance Youth League to fill the need for more youth football competitions f.
Santos said the football programmes also help to provide youngsters with positive alternatives that reduce the likelihood of juvenile delinquency.
“I want to stress again that I think once we create these programmes, it helps to keep them off the streets. It also helps them to have a purpose and somewhere to go,” Santos stated.
“I think it is our responsibility as adults to create these programmes that can assist these youngsters. We were all young at one time and if you don’t have a structured programme to be in, you will go astray.
“You are going to do things that you would not normally do if you are not in a controlled environment. If you are under the guidance of your coaches or the authoritative figures, you tend not to do these things.
“So I am hoping that these things will change, across all sports, not just speaking for football.”