EQUIPMENT DISTRIBUTION – Pictured from left to right are President of the Freeport Rugby and Football Club, Rob Spellor; Bahamas Football Association (BFA) Vice President, Andre Moss; Grand Bahama Soccer Club Co-founder, Mary Knowles; BFA President, Anthon Sealy; Principal and Vice Principal Association President, Gia Walker; BFA Assistant General Secretary, Carl Lynch and BFA Executive Vice President, Anya James. (PHOTO: SHAYNE STUBBS)
Sports July 6, 2020
It was a good day for football (soccer) on the island of Grand Bahama. The Bahamas Football Association (BFA), in partnership with Scottish FA (Football Association), and UEFA donated much needed soccer equipment to various soccer associations on the island, this past Thursday, July 2.
The Grand Bahama Soccer Club, Freeport Rugby and Football Club and the Principal/Vice Principals Association (PVPA) were all present to receive the equipment. The presentations were made at the Freeport Rugby/Football Club this past Thursday, July 2.
According to BFA President Anton Sealy, the partnership with Scottish FA was forged back in August 2018 through an initial conversation with his counterparts in the Scottish FA. That conversation led to both associations discussing partnering to develop soccer here in The Bahamas.
The conversations continued and an understanding was reached that the Scottish FA would assist the BFA with technical training, coaching and education and other developmental strategies. However, before an agreement could be set in stone, Hurricane Dorian delayed those plans back in September 2019.
Following Hurricane Dorian, Scottish FA got in touch with the BFA in an effort to help in any way possible, and both parties agreed equipment would be one of the greatest needs for the players here in Grand Bahama and Abaco. BFA Assistant General Secretary Carl Lynch was then put in touch with the Head of the International Relations of UEFA’s National Associations Division, and, an agreement was solidified.
Sealy then disclosed that in the midst of the equipment being shipped to Florida, international borders were shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Thanks to the assistance of Sky Shipping Solutions and Freeport Ship Services, the equipment eventually arrived and was stored in Grand Bahama.
“To the beneficiaries of the equipment here, we hope that they would make good use of the equipment and that it would go a long way and bring some sense of normalcy to the kids who will benefit from this.
“Recently the BFA began to roll out some protocols for us to resume football in a phased approach. We expect the kids to be back in some limited fashion shortly.
“Hopefully, this donation will be the first of many forms of assistance we will be receiving and rendering to the footballers here on Grand Bahama,” said Sealy.
Speaking on behalf of the Grand Bahama Primary School and Secondary School Athletic Associations (GBPSAA and GBSSAA), President of the PVPA, Gia Walker, expressed gratitude to the BFA for the timely donation. She further noted that GBPSAA President Oswald Simmons continues to communicate with Lynch closely to ensure the forward movement of soccer on the island.
“We have truly grown from strength to strength as an association, and we are really pleased with the progress of our soccer league competitions in both primary and secondary schools among males and females.
“It would be remiss of me if I did not acknowledge the input of coach Donnie and Mary Knowles and Arthur Paris for the grand progress we have made over the years. As we propel forward, we will do our best to remain creative as we attract our athletes to participate as early as possible.
“With the reopening of schools, once permitted, we are looking forward to hosting our first seven-a-side boys and girls soccer jamboree for grades three and under. We want you all to note that soccer is alive and kicking in Grand Bahama and we will stand strong to work with you, as we work together to make sure soccer remains strong within the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.”
President of the Rugby Club Rob Spellor said that the equipment has been sorely needed since the passage of Hurricane Matthew in 2016, and, Hurricane Dorian three years later. The club has hosted its soccer program for many years, and the new equipment will certainly go to good use.
“You could look around and see that most of the posts have been painted several times. All of this equipment is needed and much appreciated. As we move forward with our junior boys and girls’ programs, and, our senior programs the equipment will be greatly appreciated. It’s nice to see the BFA showing the commitment to Grand Bahama,” said Walker.
Coach Mary Knowles of the Grand Bahama Soccer Club voiced her appreciation also to all the parties that made the donation possible and further stated the Scottish FA has always been open to help in any way possible.
“It doesn’t surprise me that the Scottish FA stepped up. We’ve met some of the people from that FA when we go to conferences, and, when we went to the FIFA World Cup, and, they are always awesome people willing to help.
“I also want to thank the GBSSAA and GBPSSAA, Oswald Simons and Kenton Rolle (GBSSAA president). It’s a pleasure to work with them and all the people here have supported us in trying to get children playing soccer.
“Thank you BFA. We’re glad, and we hope we can have more of this, more often,” she concluded.