By Dean “The Sportsman” Greenaway
When Virgin Gorda Men and Women’s Football teams played on Tortola on Saturday, Coach Thomas “Manly” Albert found himself with a dilemma. One team would suffer, as both his VG United Men’s team of which he’s Captain and VG United Women’s team which he coaches, were scheduled to play at different venues, with games starting 15 minutes apart—4:15 and 4:30 respectively.
The Men were Greenland, the Women—in the 5-A-Side League debut—were at Cedar School in Kingston.
The Men’s game against league leaders Islanders—which has been interrupted by COVID-19 and had its latest restart last month—had long been on the BVI Football Association schedule.
“The Manager was trying to let them know—the Football Association—not to do something like that,” Albert told Island Sun Sports. “Both VG teams cannot go and play on the same day, but I think they sent the information late. I’m the Head Coach of the Women’s team and had to send my assistant Anna French, but she had to play on the team.”
Albert said it was difficult for his Women’s team that lost to the Wolues 6-2, to play without him, while his men’s side was losing 3- to Islanders. During Monday’s practice, Albert said the first thing he asked was about the game.
“They said ‘Coach, you weren’t there. We didn’t play how we were to play because the assistant coach was on the field.’ If I were there, it would have been different,” he noted. “The first thing I did was apologize and I told them, remember, I’m the Captain of the VG United Men’s team and the team really needed me, but I still had an assistant to do the job.”
Albert said he spoke to his Men’s team manager and told him if it happens again, he’s be going with the Women’s team and someone will be in charge of the Men’s game.
“It was a rough spot,” Albert noted. “I’m on the field and I’m not feeling well. I tried to play against Islanders, but my mind was on the women’s game.”
When asked about the conflict, Lorrele Abrams told Island Sun Sports there wasn’t a particular reason but it was the only time the game could be played.
“A lot of things were taken into consideration and in order to get anything done, we just had to make a decision to start now and not to delay it further,” said Abrams noting the 2017 Hurricane displaced a lot of players. “it’s only a temporary decision. Hopefully come January, things will be better.”
Abrams said they did look at the BVIFA schedule in planning the league.
“There will be conflicts,” she said. “It’s because of the situation that was handed to us and we wanted to get the Women’s program off and running, this is the decision we had to make.”
Women’s Committee Chair Mary Phillips told Island Sun Sports the decision was made over her head.
“In fact, I would have preferred that we play and have all the guys come out and support the ladies,” she said. “Personally, I wouldn’t schedule a game for the men and have the ladies playing, especially for the opening. That was a decision of the others.”