BVIFA 40th anniversary awards ceremony resounding success



Members of the BVIFA Executive and Jeffrey Webb. Photo: BVIFA

Members of the BVIFA Executive and Jeffrey Webb. Photo: BVIFA

The BVI Football Association’s 40th anniversary celebration and awards ceremony was a huge success, with a large turnout from players, supporters, parents and especially youngsters.

As the guests arrived at the Multi Purpose Sports Complex on Saturday 13th September, 2014, they were all greeted with a red carpet entrance decorated with CONCACAF and specially decorated BVIFA 40th anniversary footballs, a welcome from the mucko jumbies and an exquisitely decorated auditorium draped in commemorative 40th Anniversary flags, banners and even a mini painted football pitch with small goals.

Many of the people so instrumental in keeping the Football Family healthy and growing in the BVI were celebrated during the evening and all the assembled dignitaries were escorted by the newly created band of young football Ambassadors.

This programme, an initiative of Mrs. Arleta Bickerton, grew out of her involvement with the U15 Girls team that took part in a CONCACAF tournament earlier this year and is away of giving youths an all round perspective of what they can achieve through the sport both on and off the field.

BVIFA President, Mr. Andy Bickerton opened the proceedings, welcoming the Guests including Mr. Ralph T O’Neal, leader of the Opposition Government, Mr. Jeffrey Webb, President of CONCACAF, Mr. Gordon Derrick, President of the Caribbean Football Union, the Honourable Marlon Penn, Mr. Lloyd Black, General Secretary of the BVI Olympic Committee, Mr. Paul Hewlett, on behalf of the Minister Responsible for Sport and Ms. Avelinda Freeman, from the Department of Youth Affairs and Sports.

Marlon Penn, who spoke on behalf of the Premier, noted that FIFA had been around in the Territory longer than he had and also commented on how the sport is developing the youths: “In most recent times Mr. Bickerton and his team have been working diligently to develop a youth programme and it has already borne fruit with over 1000 projected young people to be playing football. Through Football, new avenues can be created for young people, Track and Field used to be the sport of choice for young people and then Basketball, but it seems like Football is now taking the lead and becoming the number one sport.”

Mr. Gordon Derrick then alluded to some of the problems faced by World Football Associations including the BVI and including Social Disorder, inevitable rise in crime and FIFA’s eligibility Rules.

“You will see these are real and credible threats to association’s growth and potential progress,” said Mr. Derrick. “I urge you, I implore you, the assembled government dignitaries, I beg you to put your heads together so that the BVI will have it’s best representatives. I find it very unreal and unthinkable that someone born in the British Virgin Islands, attended Primary School in the British Virgin Islands, went to High School in the British Virgin Islands, they work here, pay taxes, but for some reason are unable to get a BVI Passport and are unable to represent the BVI. That is unheard of! Maybe many years ago, I understand that might have been a fact, but this 2014.”

Mr Derrick concluded with words of caution and encouragement: “Such an achievement as this shows, it is important to celebrate our past it is also important to keep looking and forging ahead. As you begin to look to the next 40 years I want to encourage you to continue to take risks, because in doing so you will learn how to fail. After all it is only in learning how to fail that you learn resilience.”

Mr. Webb got the crowd to its feet in thanking the entire Football family for reaching 40 years stating, “So much struggle, so much commitment, so much sacrifice, so many people who have given their lives for a dream, so many people who have given their lives for opportunity to others.”

Mr Webb began playing Football when he was 9 years old and never dreamed of where the game would take him.

“I never dreamed where the game would take me. I never dreamed that I would travel to 140 something countries around the world. That I would be representing, in my region of 41 countries, over 500 million people. And it all started out because of a love for Football.”

Mr Webb also praised the Goal Project that is intended to highlight the next few years of Football development and provide a home for Football in the territory.

“The BVI, I believe, is the only member of CONCAF not to take advantage of, or benefit from, the Goal Programme which started in 1999 with a vision of building a home for every National Football Association. Let’s build a home for the BVI Football Association!”