BFA targeting return of domestic action ahead of internationals
This month’s World Cup qualifying matches has given the Bermuda Football Association more determination to restart the domestic league season which has stalled for three months.
The BFA sent a squad of 23 players to Orlando, Florida, yesterday for a six-day training camp which will include two friendly matches against the Bahamas on Friday and Sunday.
The bulk of the squad are locally based players, some included for the first time, who are anxious to get in some competitive games as no football has been played on island since the first weekend in December.
No date has been set for the return to competitive sport, with the Health Department’s Return to Play Guidance presently in stage three, with play set to resume in the proceeding stage.
“It’s important for us to restart because we have international matches,” said Shannon Burgess, the BFA first vice-president and chairman of the competitions committee. “We need our national team players to be playing domestic football.
“If this wasn’t a World Cup qualifying year then maybe we would have considered other options.
“In the same vein, cricket have some international commitments this summer as well and we don’t want to impede too much on their season because they have to get their players ready as well.”
Football looks certain to be extended into May as the BFA tries to complete their league campaign which has not even reached the halfway stage.
“However, that presents scheduling problems with local grounds that also hosts cricket anxious to begin preparing their pitches for the start of the season.
In the meantime, football and other contact sports await word on when they can resume.
Ernest Peets, the sports minister, recently reminded that one of the requirements for return to play of contact sports is for the athletes to take a saliva test.
Burgess recognises that safety of the athletes comes first. “Absolutely, that’s the No 1 priority,” he stressed. “We still wait and then we’ll make a determination once the picture becomes more clear.
“The league will be the priority, but there is flexibility with the cup games because we can play cup matches on neutral fields.
We can use night venues and play matches in midweek if we chose to do so. The cup games will likely be played in midweek and at night at a couple of venues.
“PHC Field will not be ready [for night games] and Somerset will likely be ready.”
Burgess, a former Bermuda captain, recognises the importance of competitive matches in the build-up to international fixtures.
“The clubs are anxious, the players are obviously anxious, and my priority from a player standpoint is getting the national team players some football under their belt,” he said.
“There are some big matches coming up. Under normal circumstances the players would be in peak fitness and ready to take on Canada.
“The way they performed against Mexico and other powerhouses, I would have loved to have seen them with three quarters of a season played when they play Canada.”