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Schedule change a sad way to start season

BERMUDA Football Association have put their boot in it even before the first ball of the season has been kicked in earnest.Postponement of the opening Dudley Eve Trophy matches on Tuesday night has quite rightly caused the ire of coaches, the most vocal of whom has been Southampton Rangers’ Keith Jennings.Having heard that his team’s clash with Devonshire Cougars had been called off only ‘by word of mouth’, he told the governing body “to get their act together.”He may have had a point.It’s simply unacceptable that a double-header Cup evening be postponed because it clashed with a FIFA-run referees’ course.As Jennings complained, the schedule released a month ago is already in disarray. The BFA would have known then the dates of the refs’ course and could have made alternative plans.Was it a case of the right hand not knowing what the left hand was doing, an honest oversight or simply incompetence?One could only imagine the frustration of president Larry Mussenden knowing someone on his staff had already put the Association in the line of fire.The irony, of course, is that a shortage of referees has been a perennial problem at the start of every season and the BFA have made great strides to alleviate that problem by encouraging more football players to swap their jerseys for a whistle once they’ve retired from the game.Tuesday’s course may have gone some way to bolstering the Bermuda Referees Association’s ranks.Instead it left the first games unable to be played because there were no refs to take charge.Given that there were several weekends on the schedule last season when games weren’t played, it was hardly a case of trying to jam in as many matches as possible in the first weeks of the new campaign.Indeed, there was no need to start the season so early.With the cricket season still ongoing, one would have thought that the two national sports could have put their heads together to ensure a smooth transition from one to the other. After all, in a small island such as this there are plenty who like to participate in both cricket and football.And once a schedule is released, the BFA should make every effort to ensure that it’s adhered to.Last year almost every week, notice of a schedule change was released by the BFA in just about every division.Understandably, weather plays some part in those decisions. Waterlogged pitches can cause postponement but there were occasions last year when games were called off long before they were due to be played.Such premature decisions annoyed both teams and fans (not to mention the media). Often, by the time the rain had stopped and wind subsided, the pitches were perfectly playable.Jennings made a valid point in noting that changes to the fixture schedule affected both coaches and players who arrange their personal lives around that schedule.They book vacations knowing that their club aren’t expected to play during that period only to find that a switch of dates at the last moment has torpedoed their plans.Generally football has been well run in the last few years with heavy discipline handed out to those who breach the rules.But if the BFA can’t discipline themselves, much of that work will soon be undone.* * * *TOO little too late . . . closing the stable gate after the horse has bolted . . . either one of those proverbs could be applied to Sports Minister Glenn Blakeney’s decision to investigate how the millions of dollars handed to both the BCB and BFA several years ago was spent.It’s more than four years since Government threw $13 million of taxpayers’ money into the development of cricket after the national team qualified for the World Cup.Unfortunately, since then they have developed into a bunch of losers. Losing has become an addiction.After their memorable appearance at the World Cup in Trinidad, the number of international victories could be counted on one hand.So where exactly did the money go? Wherever it went, it didn’t improve how Bermudians play the game. Decline of the sport has been painful.And if Government didn’t know then, there’s little chance they’ll find out now.Wouldn’t it have been more prudent to monitor the financial affairs of the BCB and the BFA as soon as the cash was released, rather than wait more than fours years to investigate how it was spent.While the cricket board have expanded their staff, spectators have been driven away in droves.That might be where Mr Blakeney should begin his probe . . . taking a close look at the BCB wage bill.- ADRIAN ROBSON