ST. JOHN’S, ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA; MONDAY NOVEMBER 26, 2018 – The standard of play exhibited by locally based football players will not improve until they are exposed to a higher standard on a consistent basis.
This is the view of the Antigua and Barbuda Football Association’s (ABFA) technical director, Rolston Williams, who added that one of the ways this could be achieved is through the setting up of elite academies.
“From all levels, from under-13 to under-20 and this is the only how our players will improve. This is the only way we will produce more players on the international market and if we don’t do this then we will constantly be down or our players won’t get the opportunity to go to high competitions like the MLS [Major League Soccer], the USL [United Soccer League] and even in Mexico and other places,” he said.
“We need to have these elite academies, have our best coaches working with the players and the most important thing is to find elite competition for them consistently and if we don’t do that then we will constantly be struggling,” he added.
His pronouncement comes on the heels of the senior team’s 4-2 loss to Martinique in the CONCACAF Nations League on November 19. It was the team’s second loss in three matches, leaving them with only a slim to no chance of qualifying for the Gold Cup.
Williams said more emphasis must also be placed on the preparation of local players ahead of regional and international matches.
“The local players need to get practice matches, they need to be getting elite competition in order to be playing at the elite level because you can’t expect them to play club football and expect them to perform at elite level and that is why I was talking about when I called in the other day and spoke about the elite academy. Also at the elite level, you need elite competition in order to play at the elite level,” he said.
Williams said he is scheduled for a sit down with the ABFA during which time, he will submit his recommendations on the way forward.