Players or Board, who’s to blame for dilemma
It baffles me to even think that we could be at a dilemma because we still have cricketers playing football three weeks prior to Twenty20 World Cup qualifiers.
However, who is at fault, the cricketers or the Cricket Board, or could they both be at fault? Regardless, this mess needs to be rectified and fast before something drastic happens and we find one of our top three players, one of whom is our captain, injured and unavailable to travel.
The obvious was stated by the national coach Mr. Arnold Manders that once the team is announced cricketers who are in the national squad are no longer permitted to play football.
It seems cut and dry doesn't it? But there's a lot more to it that makes this whole thing so complex, hence the reason why we still see players ignoring the request of the coach/Board.
The following is my view on where I think the Cricket Board went wrong:
The national cricket team are currently training four to five days a week, which is a lot to ask of any amateur player, but with so much at stake it doesn't come as any surprise.
However, the problem arises because of lack of finance. The Bermuda Cricket Board is in no position to compensate the players at all for their time to train or play matches, hence the reason they have not been forced or asked to sign a contract.
In an ideal world with so much at stake the players should have been off work these last two weeks prior to the tournament and put in a training camp with weights, fitness, tactics and team building being the main focus points.
So what could or should the Cricket Board have done to rectify this whole cricket/football debacle? Even though no money is available, the minimum the Board could have done is put forward an incentive package to the players, along with an agreement contract.
Basically, highlighting that if we (Bermuda) qualify, each player will be compensated ‘x' amount of dollars and make it something substantial for such an amazing accomplishment.
In addition, on the contract it should have been highlighted that once the team is selected no player will be allowed to play football under any circumstances.
All players training for the national squad should have been asked to sign this document prior to selection. If any player decided not to sign they automatically eliminate themselves from the squad, end of story.
Now why I feel the players are wrong:
Twenty20 World Cup qualifiers, not one, not two, not three, but six places up for grabs, what more could our players want? This is the second biggest tournament that Bermuda can possibly play in. To have the chance to rub shoulders with and actually play against some of the best players in the world should be enough to make you want to not play football.
In addition to that, the message they are sending our young players in the national academy and across Bermuda is wrong. However, when I sat and thought about how much the country had to gain by qualifying, the money that we would receive and that's when it hit me.
Many may look at Janeiro and wonder here is the captain of our country what type of example is he setting, but I can assure you don't be quick to judge. Janeiro has been down this path before and got shafted badly. Janeiro played a very vital part of Bermuda qualifying to the World Cup, but at the end of the day what did he have to show for it?
How many of you recall Bermuda Government presenting the Cricket Board with a cheque of $100,000 on the City Hall steps? On top of that can you imagine how much other money came into the Cricket Board from ICC for us qualifying?
All of a sudden we went from a small office to a massive office. A Board with no transportation to having two or three vans, an office manager to a CEO, umpires gaining exposure worldwide, Bermuda being put into the high performance group, which meant even more funding.
The government then came on board and the Board received $11 million over four years, but what did the players who helped them qualify get out of all those millions of dollars, a measly few dollars each and a thank you.
Many old cricket players, cricket lovers and tax payers etc will be quick to judge the players and that's fine you have every right to your opinion, just like I do. This is a huge sacrifice and in some cases there are husbands and fathers who have to feed their families. They are being asked to make such a commitment, but what are they getting from it, what do they have to gain?
In the case of the cricketers playing football who is to say that they are not being compensated indirectly. Gone are the days when people play for the love of the game, face it, those days are gone.
Don't get me wrong though and I want the players to understand this also. While I see their point and understand their point wholeheartedly, they must also remember there is nothing bigger in sports then representing your country.
To play for one's country is the pinnacle of every sportsman's career and many would die to play for their country for free. Unfortunately, I do not think this is mentioned enough, not taught enough, not drilled into our children's minds enough when they are young. If you ask a child would he rather play for Bermuda or play Cup Match, I can almost guarantee you seven out of ten children would say Cup Match.
Having said all of that, I along with the public await the outcome of this investigation. Personally, I do not think nothing will come out of it. Let's hope it is all cleared up before Sunday so our players don't run the risk of injury again by playing football and focus on what they really need to focus on, which is cricket.