Sun, Apr

New Eastern Counties president Ian Pritchard.

IAN PRITCHARD is the new president of the Eastern Counties Football Union, the region governing football in Valencia, Sangre Grande, Toco, Manzanilla, Mayaro and such.

New president Pritchard said among his goals were youth development and the resurgence of ECFU football; forging partnerships and eventually having ECFU football become self-sufficient.

Speaking with moderator Kieron Edwards on the latest edition of the Ascension Football Show, new ECFU president Pritchard announced a partnership with Richard Ferguson’s Ascension Football. Ferguson is a former Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) presidential candidate and boss of professional club La Horquetta Rangers.

Pritchard says Ferguson’s organisation has seen the vision of the Eastern Counties, bought into the plans for Eastern Counties football, and has decided to support the resurgence of the game in the region by partnering with the Eastern Counties in the first few years of their competition.

“The Ascension Football Tournament has already started in assisting the clubs in their preparation for their return to play,” Pritchard explained. “The clubs can now have balls, cones, nets for their grounds, corner flags, so when we return to play, everything will be as professionally organised as we would likely see in the Eastern Counties.”

Pritchard added: “We have also had the commitment from the Ascension Football Tournament that they will assist in the sponsorship of prize money for our tournament and referees’ fees.”

With on-field football at a halt due to Covid-19 restrictions, the ECFU joined other associations which have recently voted in new executives via a virtual election. The TT Super League elected former national captain Clayton Morris as its president in this manner. The Northern Football Association elected former national goalkeeper Ross Russell. The Secondary Schools Football League voted in former FIFA referee Merere Gonzales, while long-serving administrator Everton Alfred was elected head of the Tobago Football Association.

On July 5, the ECFU elected Pritchard (Tamana/Cumuto) to head an executive also containing first vice-president Clem “Scotty” Reyes (Sangre Grande), second vice-president Matthew Williams (Valencia), assistant-secretary Kern Pierre (Vega De Oropouche), assistant-secretary Owen Khan (Tamana), Andre Boodoo (Grande Reviere) and former footballer Glen Rampersad (Biche).

“One of the things that we skilfully did putting together the new executive, is to try as much as possible to have persons who are involved in various communities throughout the ECFU as members of the executive,” Pritchard said.

He explained there was great anticipation and eagerness by clubs to hold the AGM, which was originally due in 2019 and further postponed from May 2020, due to the Covid-19 restrictions.

“We had 14 clubs in attendance at the AGM,” Pritchard said. “It is the biggest turn-out in terms of members present at an AGM for many, many years.

“I think the desire and the passions of the clubs to see the resurgence in the ECFU was so great that everyone was on board in terms of that AGM.”

The new ECFU executive subsequently appointed Mayaro Youth Football Club manager Marvin Durham as the new general secretary.

“Marvin has been involved in football for many, many years,” stated Pritchard. “Because of that interest and that dynamism and that effervescent way that Marvin has in terms of putting his efforts towards football in the ECFU, he was unanimously elected by the executive to be the general secretary. There was absolutely no opposition to him by any member of the new executive.”

Eastern Counties has for several years been criticised at Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) AGMs for being one of the stagnant regions in local football, with intermittent or no formal competitions. However, Pritchard was complimentary of the former Sherwin Dyer-led executive, who he felt served under very trying financial circumstances.

“Kudos and thanks must be given to the outgoing executive, who would have held the ECFU up in difficult, trying times,” Pritchard declared. “They ensured that football was played in the ECFU as often as possible, even without funds many times.

“What could they have done better? I think a more ardent search for partnerships,” Pritchard said. “Developing the product was not sufficiently done so that we could have buy-in from potential partners for the ECFU.”

One of Pritchard’s critical goals is the return of youth football to the region, with every senior team also fielding a youth team.

“This coming season, even if we start off with three clubs, we will have a competition for that,” Pritchard said, while lamenting that Toco Secondary, North Eastern College and Mayaro Composite were no longer prominent among secondary school teams, because of lack of youth development in the region. Further, the one professional team in the region, North East Stars has relocated to the capital city and is now AC Port of Spain.

SOURCE: T&T Express