Ronald Smith

Ronald Smith

At one time or another, at every level of competition, teams or individuals standout and distance themselves from their rivals.  In recent years, the Bath Estate Football Club has been building a dynasty in local football that is comparable only to the glory days of the Newtown based Harlem team.  This year, the boys from the Blue Blue city captured their fourth Premier Division title in six seasons and at the time of publication of this article, the junior Bath Estate team was one win away from capturing the Intermediate Division championship.

For the dominant team at any level of competition proper organization, discipline and sound work ethics are factors that contribute to success. The Bath Estate community has always been blessed with a group of exciting, skillful footballers. However, the organizational structure and leadership that were necessary to complement their skills were lacking. Judging by recent successes, it is easy to conclude that the Bath Estate team is now organized into consistent pre-game preparations, and operates under a disciplined club structure that is allowing the young men in the community to maximize their talent on the football field. Unfortunately, the system under which Dominica’s premier division football champions operate is hardly one worthy of emulation.  It seems therefore, that now, talent is all it takes for a team to dominate in domestic football competitions. Have football teams and clubs in Dominica inherited the disorganized approach of the local governing body, so much so that training, discipline and proper preparation are no longer key factors for success?

The Dominica Football Association (DFA) has been faced with several challenges with football administration over the past few years.  The departure of regular football from the Windsor Park seems to have left an everlasting void, and the playing surfaces of the few venues around the country leave a lot to be desired. However, the Windsor Park issue has been with us for over ten years now. Therefore, one would expect that an organization receiving funding of hundreds of thousands of FIFA dollars annually, would have already found some innovative ways to minimize the negative effects of these infrastructural challenges. Access to suitable playing fields or lack thereof has been used as a scapegoat for the depressing state of football for the past few years. But how much influence can playing conditions have on the absence of an effective marketing campaign for the world’s most popular sport?

The ability to motivate followers is one of the most crucial aspects of effective leadership. If the DFA is to serve as a source of motivation for footballers, teams or clubs in Dominica, one can surely understand why the quality of football has declined so drastically over the years. How motivated can present and future players be after witnessing the disgraceful trophy presentation to the Bath Estate team after they clinched the title this season? How can players be adequately prepared when they are only informed of their next game a few days in advance and in most cases find out via radio? How can fans be encouraged to patronize the games when the DFA makes such a lackluster effort at promoting the sport? It is a sad tale when former national players comment that they sometimes forget that there is actually a football league taking place in Dominica. Presently, the Blue Blue city is the home of the multiple champions yet such historical achievements are going unnoticed in the Bath Estate community. This is a far cry from the pre-championship days when every football match was followed by lengthy discussions late into the night.

Although the football administration in Dominica lacks creativity, it is not all doom and gloom for football on the island. The DFA is under new leadership that promises to take the sport in a new direction with a number of programs in the pipeline. The association is promising to be more actively involved in the juvenile academies across the country by making them affiliates in order to provide funding and other technical support.  There is also a U.S Federation sponsored coaching course carded to take place in late April and an advanced medical course is planned to complement the recently held medical seminar conducted by local medical professionals.

We are all hopeful that the new direction that is being promised will allow course participants to put their newly acquired knowledge into effective use in order to bring much needed value to the sport of football.  We are hopeful that the DFA will see the need to function as a coherent and effective organizational structure that can motivate clubs to follow suit, ultimately building on the passion for the game that is evident among boys and girls around the country.  We are hopeful that our young, aspiring footballers will no longer lose their enthusiasm for the sport by the age of twenty. We are hopeful that our championship teams will serve as sources of inspiration for other football teams and teams of other sporting disciplines. The DFA is faced with the serious challenge of motivating players, officials, fans and other stakeholders of local football. If the DFA can inspire football teams in Dominica to develop into effective and sustainable club structures, a return of the excitement once enjoyed at the Windsor Park may not be too far off!