BFA president Mark Wade calls for greater community involvement in local football
Mark Wade, the president of the Bermuda Football Association, is encouraging members of the wider community to get involved with their local football clubs to assist in the development of the football product.
Wade, who was speaking recently on Good Day Bermuda, with hosts Terri K and Jacky Lambert, also spoke to plans around the women's football programme, administrative and infrastructural improvements at domestic venues as well as social issues affecting clubs and players.
“We want to see football everywhere in Bermuda and our work is trying to expand on that,” said Wade, who has led the island's football programme since 2016. “Women's football is a big push because we want to grow that. We are doing some small work with Futsal we believe that's a very good training tool.
“In terms of us supporting and the public supporting, we need experienced volunteers at our clubs that bring a specific skill-set,” Wade said.
“Every club is a business, so if you consider what each business requires, that's what our clubs require.
He charged local professionals to make themselves available to support the clubs, which he described as tools designed to assist in social intervention and youth engagement.
“Our clubs require persons in HR, marketing, facilities managers; our clubs require people with these expertise and that's where the community can really help. That's getting to your community club and saying 'I am an accountant, I would love to be your treasurer and ensure you are working at a high level,” Wade said.
“That is where the community can assist, bringing that expertise into our clubs.”
With several unsavoury incidents at football games and issues involving football players over the years bringing damage to the sport’s image, Wade pointed to the factors and effects of the engagement taking place.
“Our clubs are victims I think of what they try to do and what their objectives are,” Wade continued. “There's a balance in that we have to engage these young men and help them and some of their activities bring a negative stigma to the clubs; there is a balance between these things and clubs are constantly trying to strike that balance.”
“Some of the stigma is historic and the general public won't let it go but I think our clubs have to keep plugging away at it and also consider a marketing push in communicating what they are doing and the good things around the club,” Wade said.
The administrator also indicated that discussions are taking place concerning the formation of a women's domestic league, but pointed to limited interest as a major challenge.
“ (In terms of) the women's league, we are always playing a numbers game. We have tonnes of players at youth level and we are very happy to see that and what we are trying to do is get to the numbers where we can have a senior women's league,” said Wade.
“That's the challenge that we have. We have players abroad and we have players that are just not old enough yet. I know there have been talks about a small sided game structure until we can grow it to a full 11v11, but that is always in the back of our minds, how we can get a women's league going,” he said.
Wade also identified improving the state of facilities across the island as the BFA's chief focus going forward.
“A lot of what we are doing right now is infrastructure improvements. We are working on two lighting projects and we are planning to look at other smaller infrastructure projects for clubs. That is kind of the focus at the moment. We will also look at some more administrative assistance,” said Wade.
Meanwhile, it is expected to be a busy year for the country's national teams, with the women's Under-20 and Under-17 teams schedule to compete in Concacaf competitions in the coming weeks with the senior men's team also set to line up in the Nations League. There are also several assignments on the horizon for the youth teams.