By Dean “The Sportsman” Greenaway
When the Panthers and One Love showed up on Sunday to play their scheduled BVI Football Association league match at the A. O. Shirley Grounds, players and the few fans who braced the rain, were shocked to learn that there we no linesmen to raise their flags and assist the referee in calling balls that go out of bounds.
Players and fans quickly learned there are only a few linemen on Tortola as well.
The only qualified persons to call lines were on Virgin Gorda. To top it off, the ferry wasn’t running from Virgin Gorda to Tortola because of the weather conditions, therefore, the game had to be called off. Both teams used the time for a high level scrimmage. It was the first time in the 44-year history of the BVIFA, that a game has been called off because of a lack of linesmen.
Why aren’t there linesmen on Tortola where the association is based so at least one game could have been at least played on Sunday?
Aubrey Liburd of the competitions committee and Panthers coach said: ‘that’s a good question.’
“Actually, I’m not sure how many we have,” Liburd said. “We have some in training, but they haven’t qualified as yet to do any games this season. However, they started before the league began. I know we have seven referees—four in Virgin Gorda and three on Tortola—we have three central qualified referees.”
Liburd said the only female who call lines on Tortola was away and he’s not sure what happened to the other person. According to Liburd, it was an unusual occurrence. “I was very disturbed,” he stated. “It’s just unfortunate. I’m going to meet the head of the referees when I get back on island.”
Liburd when asked, said they are seeking to get 25 linesmen in their pool, in accordance with their governing body FIFA requirements and that they be qualified.
“That’s what we’re aiming for,” he said, noting that at the momen, they have five in training—three on Tortola and two on Virgin Gorda. “We’re going to send out the information to the college and I don’t know if the high school has any of their teachers interested,” Liburd said. “That’s where we’re at at right now. A lot of players who have retired are not interested or don’t find the time or have the interest in doing lines.”
With no boats running, Tortola based teams F.C. Sea Ago, Old Madrid and the Wolues, couldn’t travel to Virgin Gorda either, thus cancelling all weekend matches.