Derrick manifesto focuses on grassroots and competitions as CFU election nears

By Paul Nicholson

July 18 – With Caribbean Football Union (CFU) elections taking place July 23, CFU president Gordon Derrick, standing for a second four-year term, has issued an election manifesto with an emphasis on grassroots development and increased competition across the region.

Included in his promises is a commitment to “oversee the implementation of a Caribbean Professional League”.

A professional league in the Caribbean has been a long-held ambition for the region that sees many of its best players leaving the island to play professional in other countries – many of them ending up representing those countries.

The league concept has been a controversial issue in this election with David John-Williams, president of the Trinidad and Tobago FA, having organised a meeting of CFU presidents to discuss its formation but not inviting Derrick or any CFU representatives. At the meeting, funded by CONCACAF and UEFA money, John-Williams launched his own election campaign.

While a pro-league may be a touchpoint for Caribbean member votes, Derrick is careful in his manifesto to appeal to all 31 members of the CFU with pledges like an an annual subvention of $50,000 to non-FIFA Member Associations and the introduction of an under-13 championship. He also says he will commit the CFU to work with every member association “to establish a vibrant youth/school league by providing the technical and administrative support”.

Other manifesto pledges include:

  • Implement a CFU health insurance policy for players and administrators across the membership at a competitive rate;
  • Introduce a digital media platform that will enable all of the CFU matches to be streamed globally;
  • Engage a world renown marketing agency, following a competitive bidding process, to secure sponsorship for CFU competitions;
  • Partner with the University of the West Indies to establish a Corporate Governance Accreditation course to be attended by all executive members of the Member Associations;
  • Partner with the University of the West Indies to develop an accredited degree for the Business of Football;
  • Partner with UNICEF to use football as a platform to advocate for the rights of the child and child protection across the region;
  • Introduce a Grassroots initiative, Football for All, through which each schoolchild between the ages of 5 and 16 will receive a football every schoolyear. The ball will be the catalyst to stimulate the dreams and aspirations of the youth. The initiative will also encourage healthy lifestyles surrounding football, beginning at an early age;
  • Create a Professional Referee Corp which will employ the best referees in the CFU, creating an avenue for the development and advancement of world-class officials;
  • Partner with CONCACAF to establish a Technical Division with the main purpose of Quality Assurance to complement the various technical courses provided by FIFA and CONCACAF;
  • Establish deeper relationships with the Dutch, English, French and Spanish federations to receive technical and developmental assistance to the CFU, particularly in light of the fact we were all once colonies of these nations.

In his pitch to federations he reminded them that when he took on the presidency it was “an organisation that was scandal-hit and tarnished” but during his term “we renegotiated Broadcast Rights Agreement under which Member Associations received $50,000.00 per Home World Cup Qualifying match, up from $5,000.00; and we lobbied for and received increases in excess of 160% for hosting grants and continue to lobby for more adequate sums.”

“I am passionate about football, the development and advancement of players and administrators in the region, and I am possessed of the understanding that our best days lie ahead. I understand that, in our region, far greater than being just a sport, football is a passport to personal advancement and nation-building. I offer leadership … to chart a positive course for the CFU. I believe in the talent of the players and administrators in the Caribbean and I am confident that together we can make a positive difference,” he said.

As well as standing against John-Williams, Derrick will also face competition from US Virgin Islands president Hillaren Frederick.

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