Anthony Johnson has been returned as president of the St. Kitts-Nevis Football Association to serve a third term at the helm of one of the most successful sport associations in the federation.
Reflecting, he said that in the past the football association had been divisive in its approach, which he believed could not be continued if football was to grow. From that perspective, building inclusion, trust and respect were important for the support of member clubs.
SKNFA President Johnson said, “We achieved the kind of support that we obviously now have by reaching out to the member clubs in a positive way, as apposed to a confrontational way.”
He explained, “When a club has an issue, or a representative of that club disagrees with a view or policy of the Association, we do not react in any antagonistic way. We try to find a way to bring ‘heads’ together and to come to a common consensus, without the negativity, without having the rancour.”
Johnson, who was once a president of a football club remembered that it was a significant “turn-off” for him. “I believe that all of the various persons who come representing their clubs, come with their best intentions,” he said. “They come because they want to develop football. They want to see their club developed. They sacrifice a lot, in terms of their own time, their own resources, time away from their family, and so on,” Johnson expressed.
And, it is within that context of inclusion and dialogue that the president indicated that more needs to be done on Nevis for the development of football in the entire federation. President Johnson said, “For us (SKNFA), Nevis is critical. As you see, one of our members, who has been elected, is from Nevis. That has been the case now for the last eight years.”
The president outlined several initiatives that were implemented on Nevis, including regional FIFA and CONCACAF courses, a first-time regional women’s football tournament hosted by Nevis, several premier league games, as well as having a number of referees and referee assistants being promoted to the FIFA list from the island of Nevis.
“We want to continue that trend,” Johnson said. But, there is more envisioned for Nevis.
President Johnson said, “The next step is to upgrade the Bath Playing Field, using some of the funding that we get from FIFA toward infrastructure.”
Johnson continued, “Just as we have the Gold Project 2 and 3, being the technical center, and we had Football House prior to that, we need to see a major infrastructural development on the island of Nevis that represents football. So, it is important that we ensure that it happens.”
Looking ahead, the SKNFA president believes Government should invest in football infrastructure, and from his perspective, it is going to take more dialogue on the matter.
Johnson said, “I think it will take continued dialogue and continuous success in football, because once success is attained, people will begin to see that we are a serious sport, not just in terms of winning game, but in terms of changing lives.”
By changing lives, he explained what he meant pointing to players who have gone abroad and returned with academic degrees. There are existing players pursuing academic degrees, as a result of scholarships they obtained through football. “Now, that is life changing,” President Johnson stated.
Additionally, he said, “We have players with professional contracts abroad, and we want to get a lot more. What that does is that it provides opportunities for the individuals concerned to support themselves and their families in the long term.”
He emphasized, “We are about changing lives – not just about winning a game.”