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BFA's indecision has cost Under-20s dear

Bermuda's Under-20 national team coach Gary Darrell (right) and technical director Derek Broadley oversee a team training session at BFA Field.

Bermuda Under-20 coach Gary Darrell wanted warm-up games against the US and Canada and not the Long Island Rough Riders, The Royal Gazette can reveal.Instead of playing the Rough Riders this Christmas, Darrell's side could have taken part in a tri-nation tournament, in Florida, against the US and Canada Under-20 teams.An agreement to play the friendly matches had been verbally arranged and was the preferred choice of the Under-20 coaching staff.They considered friendly matches against two of the top teams in the Concacaf region as better preparation for the Under-20s ahead of next month's World Cup preliminary qualifiers than games against the Rough Riders.But those mouth-watering international games, which were due to have been played last week in Sunrise, Florida, fell through because the Bermuda Football Association's player development committee “took too long” to give them their stamp of approval.In the absence of Darrell's Under-20 side, the US and Canada had to settle on a pair of friendly matches which ended 7-0 and 2-0 in the US' favour.Darrell said the tri-nation tournament had been the technical staff's “first choice” of matches and admitted he was disappointed they did not happen.“We tried hard to get those games. They were our first choice. We knew it would be difficult to get all of our players back for them because so many of our team are based overseas now,” said the former senior national team boss. “Unfortunately they (the player development committee) took too long to make a decision.”Last week Mark Wade, the player development committee chairman, admitted that playing against the US and Canada was an option but “didn't pan out”.He stressed it was important for the Bermuda public to have on-Island matches to watch over the Christmas holiday period.“We went out beyond the Caribbean to the Central American region, and then to the Americas as well. We had a few teams that were interested and this was the team we selected,” he said.The KICS International president, Eddie Roger, manages the sports complex where last week's friendly games between the US and Canada were played. It is understood he contacted the BFA while the Under-20s were involved in their World Cup qualifiers in October to invite them to join the US and Canada at his Sunrise-based training camp, where Bermuda teams have previously visited.But by the time the BFA player development committee had given those games the go-ahead it was too close to the date of the proposed fixtures and therefore impossible to assemble a travelling squad. Only then did the player development committee arrange for on-Island games over Christmas against United Soccer League (USL) team Rough Riders to fill the void.Next month the Under-20s play Guyana, Netherland Antilles and St. Vincent as they look to qualify for the Concacaf Championships in April.n Local football fans have been urged to come out in their droves to support the BFA's Premier Development League Champions Cup.BFA marketing chairman, Anthony Hunter, hopes the Island's football fraternity will help create a “family atmosphere” at the inaugural tournament's matches. “We really want a family atmosphere at the games and we hope people come out and support our young players,” he said.“It will be a big boost for them to be able to demonstrate their talents in front of a big crowd. There should be some entertaining games as a lot of our university kids are in tip-top shape and our boarding school players are involved in quality programmes.”The Champions Cup involves 12 teams with the top team from each of the four groups qualifying for the semi-finals.Matches will be played at BFA Field, BAA Field, Devonshire Rec. and Bernard Park.