Saint Lucia Football Gets Semi-professional Status

By Reginald Andrew
SPFL CEO Francis Daniel
SPFL CEO Francis Daniel

LOCAL football has moved into an exciting chapter with the launch of a semi-professional league, which comes with attractive renumeration packages for players, coaches and administrators of the game.

According to stakeholders, from March this year, football players on island will benefit from the formation of the inaugural Semi-Professional Football League [SPFL]. The SPFL is seen as a platform to help professionalise the game of football in Saint Lucia and provide players with an opportunity to enjoy economic rewards.

The initiative is being spearheaded by the Saint Lucia Football Association [SLFA] in collaboration with the Ministry of Youth Development and Sports [MYDS], which has provided funding to the tune of $1.3 million toward the SPFL.

A host of government officials headed by Prime Minister Philip J Pierre, sports personalities, business persons, media personnel and other sports enthusiasts attended the media launch, last Friday. Notably, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the SPFL Francis “Parry” Daniel, who is tasked with overseeing the operations of the semi-pro league introduced the board of directors to the gathering.

“As a nation we have dreamt of many possibilities that sports can bring to players, coaches, administrators among others , we have awakened from one of those dreams and poised to mark the historic shift in sports, signaling the maturing of an independent nation,” noted Mary Wilfred, Permanent Secretary in the MYDS.

Describing the transition as “a new dawn in the business of sports”, Wilfred added: “Our journey into the semi-professional football league will encounter obstacles and challenges, but we will be persistent, and remain resilient in our quest to deliver on this new endeavour.”

She noted that the SPFL has the potential to “leverage football, and to transform lives in our communities.”

SLFA President Lyndon Cooper was all aglow as he emphasised the merits of this venture. He stressed that the main objective of the SPFL “is to professionalize the sport of football.”

The SLFA president acknowledged the input from the government to bring this venture to fruition. He added: “We have no doubt that the execution of professionalising amateur football will redound to the benefit of every single partner in this event.”

Cooper added that the SLFA is assured that “the merger or partnership between the government of Saint Lucia and the Saint Lucia Football Association is one of the few strokes of a genius.”

Noting the importance of this latest development, he said, the SLFA remains committed “to protect the integrity and the running of the game.”

Cooper recalled that the move to professionalise the sport of football, on the island, began about 10 years ago, with the aim of “developing a strategic plan for football’.

The platform was formatted under basic pillars, he added, “firstly to develop the game and secondly, to take this country to the next FIFA World Cup.”

Cooper said the semi-pro football league was designed to attract semi-pro and professional players to participate. After having to “export” foreign nationals to represent the senior national team, he said, it was fitting to utilize a professional approach to better sustain the economic equilibrium and further development of the sport in the country.

Citing the need to “professionalise the sport”, the SLFA president stated that “we needed to partner with the expertise in order to ensure that we achieve our overall objective.”

He said the stakeholders anticipated that the creation of the SPFL, will seek to “attract players and professionals who will assist this country to achieve its overall objective and that is: “Getting (qualifying) to the next World Cup.”

Rising to take on the mantle of this task, Daniel presented a detailed account on the formation of the SPFL, and regulations to govern the administration and execution of the league.

“The SPFL is not merely a business endeavour ,” he declared. “It’s a commitment to the sport we all cherish, by creating a platform where talent is nurtured, competitions fierce and the joy of the game is celebrated.”

Underlying the theme of the SPLFL: “Leveraging Football to Transform Lives”, he said, it creates the platform to harness dreams and has the unparalleled ability “to unite us all”. And football has the capacity to shape communities and develop leaders.

Delving into the wider parameters of the league, he described the SPFL, “as the vehicle that we will be utilising to professionalise football, going forward.”

Added Daniel: “We’re hoping that it will become a pathway for the development of young footballers and the ultimate enhancement of communities and lives across Saint Lucia.”

While expressing elation for the occasion, Sports Minister Kenson Casimir noted that government is committed to providing support for sports development in Saint Lucia. And thus, he said, government took the decision to “assist with the initial capital of more than $1.3 million to the establishment of the SPFL.”

Disclosing that the SPFL is due to start, on March3 the sports minister declared: “This level of funding will ensure that …it will catapult the league to an impressive start.”

He said the ‘historic’ Mindoo Phillip Park [MPP] will host the first SPFL match to be played in the country.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Send this to a friend