What was supposed to be a one-day visit has now turned into six days for the Antigua and Bermuda Under-15 girls’ football team currently stranded in Barbados.
The team was in the island as part of their preparation for the upcoming CONCACAF Under-15 Girls Championship slated for August 9 to 21 at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Disney in Orlando, Florida. They arrived in Barbados on Friday July 30 for a 9.30 a.m. appointment at the United States Embassy but touched down late at the Grantley Adams International Airport around 12:30 p.m. that same day.
They came with only their passports and relevant documentation and to make matters worse had no other form of clothing except their official team uniforms that they wore. However, thanks to the Barbados Football Association (BFA) the girls have been looked after with respect to meals and accommodation.
Speaking with Barbados TODAY, Antigua coach Lorraine Charles, one of three coaches with the team, said despite the circumstances they were trying to make the best out of the situation. She said today they received good news from the US embassy that by 9:30a.m. this Friday DHL would deliver their passports.
“Our flight was late so when we got to the embassy late [last week Friday] and they told us they close half day and we have to return Wednesday which was today, not realizing that Monday, Tuesday was a holiday here [in Barbados]. So we went this morning and we got through and we are still here because they told us it takes seven working days for us to get back our passports. But the good people at the embassy told us they are going to work with us so by 9.30 Friday morning we should get them back from DHL,” Charles said.
Once all goes according to plan the team should leave Barbados by 3p.m. on Friday.
The team is currently staying at LE Retreat located in Dover, Christ Church, under the kind auspices of husband and wife team Jefferson and Beverley Lashley. There were other good Samaritans such as Antiguan team physio Ann Crawford-Jones who came into Barbados with her husband Dale to enjoy Crop Over and ended up attending to the needs of the team. Turtle Beach Hotel has also been generously providing breakfast.
The Antiguan side would have missed out on a few days practice session for the upcoming CONCACAF tournament that Barbados’ girls are also gearing up for but Charles assured that the team was 85 per cent ready and would brush up on a few areas before departing Antigua next Monday for the United States.
One of the team members Alexandria Jackson told Barbados TODAY the players were a bit nervous the first night after being stranded but it has turned out to be a wonderful experience.
She said: “The country is nice. Everything is just beautiful, the food is great and it has turned into a wonderful vacation here I must say. Most of the girls said they missed home but the experience was great. We went on tours and learnt new things about the country including the eleven parishes.”
Chairman of the BFA’s technical committee, Adrian Donovan, explained it was a plight that could have happened to anyone and therefore the association was happy to offer any assistance needed.
“They are our neighbours, we have a very good relationship with them and as soon as we found out our sisters were experiencing some challenges we got together some members of the BFA executive and within a matter of hours transportation, accommodation and food had to be worked on. Now that their flight has been extended for another two days it has called for more work but at the end of the day we are happy to assist our fellow Caribbean Football Union counterparts,” Donovan said.