Sports: Nickey: “We have to restrict abuse of field”

POSTED: 02/16/12 1:28 PM

St. Maarten – The re-introduction of ladies football, the staging of a Leeward Islands tournament and participation in Digicel Cup are just some of the topics on the agenda of the St Maarten Soccer Association (SMSA) for 2012 as they embark on a new plan. This new approach by the SMSA is to further stimulate the development of the game at the youth level and with the staging of the Kingdom Games on the not so distant horizon, it’s a move that is necessary for all parties concerned.
“This is the path the soccer association is taking, our first goal is to try to get more youths involved in competitions. We have already started in the secondary schools and we were able to put out a good U-17 team that did well in St Kitts,” SMSA President Owen Nickey said.
According to Nickey, about 21 players have been shortlisted for training, those in the U-17 bracket will be singled out for the Kingdom Games and those over 17 will be part of the domestic teams on the island.
“We will be sending out invitations to the ladies who have played before and those who are interested in playing football. Our intention is to have a competition among the ladies sometime soon because this is one aspect that FIFA is pushing in the region,” Nickey added.
Admittingly, Nickey said that the SMSA was dormant due to inactivity on the field at the Raoul illidge Sports Complex.
“Thanks to the corporation of our French counterparts, we were able to put up two teams in the excellent division, Flames and Hotspurs who are competing on the French side of the island.”
One of the things the SMSA hopes to organize is a tournament involving teams within the Leeward Islands after the conclusion of the excellent division tournament sometime in June.
“We have not yet decided on the format the tournament will take, but we will invite the representatives from the various islands to a meeting sometime in March. This is the only way for the local teams to get exposure,” Nickey pointed out.
At the domestic level, the tournament is billed to start in the next three weeks and among the teams that will be participating in that tournament are Super Stars, Hot Spurs, Flames and two teams involving students that have recently left school. The names of those teams have not been submitted as yet.
In the area of officiating, the SMSA has already sought coaching assistance from Holland and according to Nickey, refereeing is an area that needs much attention. He indicated that the schools competition which will be divided into two categories will also start in the next three weeks.
“We have already sent out letters to the primary schools and we are awaiting confirmation. I think that lack of preparation has caused some schools to drop out of the tournament too soon. Kids in the 6-9 age bracket will be allowed to practice on the field from 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. and from 9 – 12 will have the field from 4.30 to train.”
In a move to instill strict discipline, the SMSA and their French counterparts had agreed to enforce joint bans on players who for one reason or the other failed to adhere to the stipulated rules that govern the sport.
With the re introduction of the Easter tournament on the French side, Nickey hopes to have St Maarten represented at the various age brackets.
“We have received an invitation from the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) to participate in the Digicel Cup in August.
“As members of the CFU, we are obligated to send a team. It’s unfortunate that we have not done so in the past. We did not have a full national team then, but what we have now is more than enough,” Vice President of the SMSA Elton Jones said.

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