St Kitts and Nevis (WINN): Former St. Kitts and Nevis National captain Atiba Harris confirmed his plans to run in the upcoming Football Association election and explained his plans for the development of the grassroots game.
Speaking on WINN FM’s Island Tea morning show on Thursday (July 22), Harris tackled the questions on the sport’s growth and talked about his intention to focus on consistent youth programming if elected at the National Association election next month.
“We spend so much time looking at the senior level and forget about the junior level in both male and female. At a young age, everybody is on a level playing field, it’s when you get to senior level, you start to see the separation. If we start focusing and being realistic, focus on our youth development programmes, I think we can get to youth tournaments in these age categories.
Harris recently retired from his professional career which included stints across North America, Europe as a professional over 10 years and 37 national caps. He last represented the Sugar Boys in 2019 against French Guiana in the CONCACAF Nations League.
Harris’ believes with attention to youth programme development, St. Kitts has the opportunity to compete at the region’s highest levels in the future.
“Consistently making these youth tournaments and youth programmes running we will eventually get to the senior level which is qualifying for the Gold Cup, which is a realistic goal for us,” Harris said.
“Talent is never an issue here, we are blessed with talent… but we lack consistent programming. Over the years you notice that a tournament is coming up and teams are getting prepared maybe two months before. After that tournament there is nothing, so you have to always reset and do it all over again, instead of having continuous programmes.”
Harris is known as a stalwart defender in his playing days and plans to bring that tenacity and determination to ensuring players rights are protected and opportunities provided to local teams first.
He discussed the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the sport and its fans and has plans to pump energy into the national programme if elected.
“One of the things we are exclusively going to do is reset football, by increasing the grant across the board, giving every club an opportunity to get our programmes and their programmes in place and up and running so that way we can have a level playing and implement everything we are trying to accomplish.
The St. Kitts and Nevis Football Association General Congress and elections are scheduled for August 29, 2021.