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BFA defends controversial snub of Antwan Russell on awards night

Antwan Russell feels he was robbed by the BFA after leading Paget to the league and Shield double as well as a place in the FA Cup semi-finals (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

The Bermuda Football Association has responded to criticism surrounding its recent Award Ceremony at City Hall.

Controversy erupted when candidates for awards were overlooked despite their outstanding achievements throughout the 2022-23 season.

Among them was Paget Lions player-coach Antwan Russell, who did not receive the First Division Coach of the Year award even after guiding his club to the league and Shield double, and to the semi-finals of the FA Cup.

Russell claims he was “robbed“ for the top prize, which was given to Michael Smith, of Young Men’s Social Club.

In response to Russell’s assertion, a BFA statement read: “We appreciate the passion displayed on and off the field of play by players, coaches and fans, as it truly embodies the essence of ‘the beautiful game’ of football.”

The nomination process for awards, which has been in place for the past 20 years, was conducted in two phases. During the first phase, club coaches were required to nominate individuals only from their team.

Once all nominations were received from the clubs, the completed list of nominations was sent to the clubs for the second phase of voting. During that second phase, club coaches are required to select their choices from the list of nominations.

During this second phase, the coaches cannot select a player from their own team. Coaches must also rank the their top three players in each category.

The top-ranked nominee received five points, second-ranked nominee received three points and the third-ranked nominee one point. The award is presented to the player or coach who receives the most points.

The BFA statement added: “As the voting pool for the Goalkeeper of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, Young Player of the Year and Coach of the Year, club coaches use their specific skills and knowledge to make informed decisions. The voting process has been in place for 20 years.

“Coaches play a crucial role in the game that we love by instructing our players technically, tactically, physically and mentally. This is key to the development of our athletes.”

Russell was denied what would have been an impressive treble after he was voted as the First Division’s Most Valuable Player, and was leading goalscorer with 25 goals.

“This is the biggest slap in my face,” he said. “I feel like I was robbed.”

The controversy was not the only surprise, as Danvers Seymour Jr was overlooked for the Senior Women’s League Coach of the Year award despite guiding Somerset to league and Knockout Cup honours.

The West Enders were also overlooked for the Most Valuable Player award and Defensive Player of the Year awards in a season where they conceded only three goals in the league.

PHC coach Robert Bean was voted as Senior Women’s League Coach of the Year, while the Defensive Player of the Year award went to K’Xiyae Gibbons, of Dandy Stars.

Gibbons was recently in headlines for being sent off at the end of a Concacaf Women’s Under-20 Championship Qualifier in Nicaragua this month.

The midfielder kicked a Jamaican opponent during the post-match handshakes, then had to be restrained after being shown the red card.

In response to the reports, the BFA has said it will investigate the incident but there has been nothing forthcoming in the ten or more days since the team’s return.

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Published April 29, 2023 at 7:54 am (Updated April 29, 2023 at 7:54 am)

BFA defends controversial snub of Antwan Russell on awards night

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