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Grassroots football players practice at Blakes on Monday, June 6, 2016.

No Ferry Service Stalls Summer Football Camp Plans

6-6-16-football 6-6-16-football2There are at least 68 football athletes disappointed tonight after they were told that the planned summer camp to Guadeloupe is no longer possible due to no confirmed ferry service.

Vincent Cassell, President of the Montserrat Football Association (MFA) told parents on Monday evening that they have 24 hours to pay down 50% on their accommodations in Guadeloupe if they want to reserve the space. However, Cassell said it was a risk to put down $486,000 with no guarantee that a ferry would be available for the travel date on July 20.

Montserrat has been without a ferry service since contract negotiations were halted with Caribe Sun in early April.

The MFA had been preparing for a three-week camp in Guadeloupe to give athletes the opportunity to test their skills against other players. The football official said it was important that at this stage of the programme, the players were able to see how good they were in world class competitions and they have been preparing for this.

“These kids have been working hard for the last two years and this is very disappointing,” Cassell told the parents.

Parents in attendance queried various options but all were too expensive and high risk. This included the multiple flights which would be necessary to get everyone to Antigua and back. Subsidy on the airline flights is also scheduled to run out at the end of June.

He explained that the plan was to take the local ferry service to Antigua to pick up the Guadeloupe ferry, which makes weekly trips to the island. While the cost from Antigua to Guadeloupe was 80 Euros per person, the ferry service would charge MFA 27,000 Euros one way to come to Montserrat to pick up the campers. This he said, was outside the scope of their budget.

A direct charter between Guadeloupe and Montserrat was also too costly, as the ferry is a 500-seater and the camp group was only 80 people, which included 12 staff and chaperones.

Athletes from the grassroots, Elite Boys and Girls and the women’s team were scheduled to participate in the camp, expected to run for three weeks until August 10.

Access officials had announced June 8th as the start of a new ferry service, however no word of same has been forthcoming. The latest word is that procurement errors affected the ferry tendering process.