At the St Lucia Football Association [SLFA] Inc. recently held 35th annual Congress – the prospective formation of a semi-professional football league on the island was among the key issues highlighted.
SLFA President Lyndon Cooper noted that ‘policy formation’ constitutes an integral part of the association’s directives, as the unit is tasked with overseeing the development of 19 affiliates and at least 100 licensed clubs.
Stressing the necessity for the formation of a semi-pro league on the island, Cooper made a concerted appeal to the authorities to review the CIP funds, in such a way that it could help contribute to the development of local football. He noted that such a venture would assist young and seasoned players to earn a livelihood from the sport, while the SLFA works towards achieving its short and long-term objectives.
The SLFA president said “there must be value for money” as St Lucia transitions into putting together a national representative team, following the non-qualification of the St Lucia U-20 Team at the CONCACAF U-20 competition.
“So on that issue of national teams and domestic competition, I want to take this opportunity to call on the Government of St Lucia, to seriously consider a relook of its Citizens by Investment (CIP) program,” declared Cooper.
He said that through these investments, locals could benefit in such a way that would afford “their children an opportunity to play and represent St Lucia in both the short-term and long-term period for the sustainability of the organization (SLFA) and which can lead towards this country’s long-term achievement”.
Cooper added: “I also want to pledge the SLFA’s commitment to any initiative that would create those additional platforms for St Lucia, by remaining committed to our financial contribution when the time comes.”
The SLFA president proposed that the authorities’ youth economy touted programme should also include acquiring economic gains from football. He assured that the SLFA was willing to provide 50% funding towards that venture, with prospects of initiating a Semi-Pro League, as part of the youth economy project.
“I also want to take this opportunity to ask the government to consider its Youth Economy Programme by including the sport of football as part of an employment engagement,” he noted.
Cooper said the SLFA remains committed “to matching whatsoever the amount is …once football remains or is part of the Youth Economy.”
He said the SLFA views this programme as “well-thought-of and well-placed. We think the creation of a Semi-Professional league …that we have hinted at for the last two years should be considered as part of the Youth Economy project.”
Cooper expressed the SLFA’s continued support for the establishment of the St Lucia Sports Academy- Centre of Excellence, with its overall thrust of reaching out to young student-athletes and helping them harness their skills into professional careers. He said the SLFA had taken a thorough and calculated decision to get young athletes to be an integral part of the sports-academic programme.
“We decided to join the programme because, at the time, we think that the best place for a national team is an institution where all players could eat, play, educate, and train together…” he said.
Cooper is hopeful that this initiative will continue and progress “so that we can allow our kids to train and get educated at the highest domestic level.”
He noted that players from the U-15 to U-20 age range were prime contenders in St Lucia getting its players ready for representation at a FIFA World Cup.
Cooper stressed the importance of maintaining good relations between the SLFA and FIFA and being compliant with the rules and regulations of the world’s top governing football body.
While acknowledging the appointment of a new head coach, he disclosed that there will be a ‘new look’ composition to the National Men Senior Team and the other national teams.
The SLFA president sought approval for the sum of a $4 million budget to fund SLFA-related projects. He said a return to domestic competition would produce a pool of players capable of giving out maximum performance when out to represent the country.
Cooper informed the gathering that two Promotional Competitions are due to be held, and they will be named in honor of past SLFA stalwarts.
He reiterated the SLFA’s continued support for the Women’s Football Programme; while the association plans to disburse development funds to assist leagues and additional funds will be made available for youth football development.