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BFA waiting on decision from health officials

The last time there was organized football in The Bahamas was mid-March when the COVID-19 pandemic put a screeching halt to all sports locally and internationally. Some professional leagues have gotten back underway internationally, but locally, there remains a lull in sporting activities.

Bahamas Football Association (BFA) Secretary General Fred Lunn said they, like all other sports in The Bahamas, are looking to resume play. They have submitted a plan to the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture on how they plan to restart the sport of soccer.

“I think every sport wrote protocols to the ministry of sports but then again they cannot give us permission or dictate how the country will open up. That is a Ministry of Health issue. You saw this week we have a few more cases pop up so we are all just in a waiting game,” Lunn said. “We are just trying to get schools opened again. We don’t even know what’s happening there right now and what is going to happen in the fall. We are just waiting on the Ministry of Health in terms of when we can have a league playing again.”

The local football players have been training in small groups to keep in game shape for whenever football activities resume. For the collegiate players, Lunn stated that some of those student-athlete programs are on hold as well as they wait and see what the universities do as they are guided by their health departments in the respective states in the United States.

Several teams such as the senior men’s national team and the senior women’s beach soccer team were set to travel for international competition this year. Those competitions have been postponed until next year.

“We don’t have any international travel this year,” Lunn said. “Unfortunately, all of our travel probably has to go through the US… the challenge with these international matches is that when you leave here things change while you travelling. You can enter a country and the borders close down and you are stuck with a team abroad. That happened to us in 2009 when we went to Mexico during the swine flu and were stuck in Florida for 10 days. For us, let’s just see what happens this year and make plans for next year.”

The Bahamas’ senior men’s national soccer team was set to play French Guiana in a first round home-and-away series of the 2021 Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) Gold Cup Qualifiers back in March of this year. The senior women’s national beach soccer team was set to travel to El Salvador back in April.

Lunn reiterated that the association has protocols in place to ensure the safety of players and officials, so it is just a matter of when they can resume playing.

On Monday, The Bahamas’ Ministry of Health confirmed 21 new cases of COVID-19. Those 21 cases brought up the total number of cases to 174. Since July 1 when the borders were fully opened, there have been 70 new cases.

Just before the COVID-19 pandemic shut the country down the BFA, through a partnership with the Scottish Football Association (SFA), helped facilitate a massive equipment donation worth about $40,000 to help jumpstart soccer programs on both Abaco and Grand Bahama which were devastated by Hurricane Dorian in September of last year. Brand new footballs, medium and small goals, training pop-up goals, flags, sports bags, and cones, were some of the equipment presented to groups like the Freeport Rugby Football Club, the Grand Bahama Soccer Club, and the Grand Bahama primary and secondary schools athletic associations.

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