By E. Glenford Prescott
Venold Coombs confidently strode to a convincing victory and a second four-year term as president of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Football Federation (SVGFF) over challenger, Roddy Dowers,when the organisation held its annual meeting on Saturday at the Arnos Vale Sports Complex.
Coombs won 31-17 as all 48 duly registered affiliates cast their ballots.
The race initially looked to be a close one as the candidates traded ballots early in the counting, but Coombs then pulled away to register an almost and two to one margin.
“I guess that it appeared that close because the votes for the clubs and leagues in Kingstown were probably the first to come out but after that the outcome was clear,” Coombs said in explaining what he thought was the reason for what looked like a close contest.
Otashie Spring was elected 1st Vice-President; Marvin Fraser, 2nd Vice-President; and Wayde Jackson, 3rd Vice-President.
The rest of the executive will be completed with the election of four committee members in the next two weeks.
The meeting, as per usual with the annual meetings of the SVGFF, was not without its share of personality clashes and loud exchanges as delegates witnessed, for the second time within a year, sitting members of an executive taking the floor to question a president.
It took place with the SVG Cricket Association (SVGCA) last year when president Julian Jack was humiliated by his executive and forced out of office.
On Saturday, Coombs and second vice-president Marvin Fraser occupied the head table as first, 3rd VP, Elroy Boucher, then fired General Secretary Trevor Huggins, and Committee Member Clemroy Francois took turns at what some say appeared to be a planned and well-orchestrated attempt to create doubts in their credibility and suitability.
This resulted in exchanges, which suggested that there were deep-rooted problems between both sides that gave the impression that there was irreparable damage.
The issue that once again proved the bone of contention was the income from the sale of world cup tickets. In the end, the Affiliates seemed satisfied with the explanation given by the president and overwhelmingly voted him back into office.
“That worthless bunch of people came here today with one intention and that was to discredit me. I cannot say that I am surprised, but clearly you can say from the outcome of the elections that the Affiliates know that I have the interest of football at heart. I am not in this for a stipend or a trip. I am for the development of the youths and my country through football,” Coombs said.
But unlike the issue with the SVGCA, it was Coombs who prevailed as his adversaries were all thrashed at the polls.
Francois lost in the second vice-president battle while Huggins, sensing the possibly inevitable, made a last minute withdrawal from that race.
And Boucher was unsuccessful in his attempt to stay in the 3rd vice president position.
The “slate” put forward by Coombs made a clean sweep in collecting all three vice-presidents positions with little fuss for the most part.
Spring, an accountant, had to stave off a strong challenge from technician Wayne Grant before taking the 1st vice-president position with 14 votes. Grant collected 12 votes, with Osborne Bowens, 8; Kendale Mercury, 8 and Keith Duncan, 6, being the others on the ballot.
The incumbent Fraser garnered 22 votes to hold onto the 2nd vice president position to beat nearest challenger, Francois, who got 15. St. Clair Stapleton, whose tenure as accountant at the SVGFF’s office appears to have been ended, got five votes while a name listed as “Rockwell John” got three votes and there were three spoiled ballots.
Jackson recorded the widest margin of victory as he secured the 3rd vice president position by a 17 votes advantage over the incumbent Boucher, winning 28/11.
Bevan Lewis, the other candidate in the race, polled 8 votes.
“People do not want football to be dragged into the mud and they have shown that in no uncertain terms. Football must not be seen in such negative light constantly. Yes, I admit that people will have differences, but the extent which some people went to even write to FIFA Ethics Committee and go to the FIU that was taking it too far,” Coombs said.
He said that it was his intention to try and get as many people on board as they still have the World Cup campaign and other programmes and these must be given priority over the next few weeks.