Andrew Bascome warns greater club stability is critical for future of football
Andrew Bascome has warned it is imperative to try and prevent further clubs from dropping out of the Bermuda Football Association leagues to safeguard the very future of the game on island.
Bascome and his BAA side are preparing for the upcoming First Division campaign after confirming their return to the league, two years after sensationally dropping out as a Premier Division team in the wake of an exodus of players.
However, while the return of BAA, along with Paget — who are also re-entering the league after a two-year hiatus, having withdrawn from the First Division under similar circumstances — brings a seemingly welcome boost, the league has been rocked again by the confirmation that Flanagan’s Onions have opted to withdraw from the division.
Having suffered the same fate, Bascome believes it should act as a warning to all clubs as well as the BFA, which has now had three clubs withdraw from the leagues in as many years.
“Of course it is crucial that clubs are able to have teams in the leagues,” said Bascome, who will once again take up the role of head coach of BAA. “Young players, in particular, need somewhere to play competitive matches and have a development pathway in Bermuda.
“I was gutted when BAA were forced to drop out of the league and the fact that clubs are still dropping out is so hard to see as a coach. We are in such challenging times, it is affecting everyone and it is critically important that things improve.
“If there is no pathway for young players, then their development just stops. Players will end up leaving the game for good and so it is vitally important that clubs can offer that link to football.
“We have to find ways to create that pathway and have collective solutions so that clubs don’t have to face the prospect of dropping out the leagues.
“The fact that established clubs have been forced to drop out in recent years should act as a warning to everyone.
“Perhaps it is something that the BFA need to look at. Maybe it is a case of us all coming together and collectively working together for the better of the sport. Football and sport in general are crucial to the entire community.”
Bascome believes the crux of the matter lies with a greater need to improve the infrastructure of clubs themselves in order to create vital stability and, as a result, a better environment for players to develop.
“The best thing clubs can do is invest in their infrastructure and making improvements for the players themselves,” he added. “It could be small things like facilities but they are a necessity. The future stability of the game as a whole on island is key, we have to invest in that first and foremost.
“I’m not sure players will necessarily stay in the game out of loyalty to their club, but they will continue playing for the love of the game. What else are they being offered?
“We should be creating the right environments for players and then building everything else around that. Ideally, clubs need to serve what's best for the players.”
That need for stability is the immediate focus for Bascome at BAA, who has admitted that his only real expectation for the coming season is to be able to best nurture the development of his young squad.
“It’s massively positive for me that BAA have been able to return to the First Division,” Bascome said. “Obviously everyone will always want to be competitive on the field, but I have no real expectations for the coming season.
“For me it is all about development of the players. As always my focus will be on creating an environment that players enjoy themselves, develop and hopefully want to stay in the game.
“For the club right now the most important thing is stability and rebuilding back to what we have always been; a club that focuses on development and creating an environment to allow that.”