Encouraged to stick together to achieve greater heights in the sport, the Rupununi Football Association (RFA) kicked off its 2020 season in style with the opening of the fifth edition of the Champions League, on Sunday evening at the Culvert City Sports Ground.
The geography of the vast Rupununi prohibited many of the teams from turning out for the opening, but those present were reminded of the encouraging progress the Association has made over the past few years and what was in store for them.
Sharing the moment with the teams and fans were Guyana Football Federation (GFF) President Wayne Forde, Lethem Mayor John Macedo along with GFA President Ryan Farias and executive members.
In his feature remarks, President Forde commended President Farias and his executive team for the excellent work they have been doing; he also expressed gratitude to Mayor Macedo for improving the Culvert City ground which he had committed to do one year ago.
“I think when you consider where football infrastructure was four years ago when I began to visit this region strictly for football business, there has been tremendous improvement over those four years. As I understand it, most of the grounds are not lit, there are goals being constructed, there are plans to do work and improve the surfaces; so, all of this will impact on improving the quality of football.”
Forde commended the players in particular for their commitment which has allowed the RFA to set itself apart from almost every other association in this country.
“You guys have played football at every level, both male and female, and that is a testimony to the commitment of your president and his executive committee, but more so to you the players, because as I understand it, it is not easy for many of you to travel from the long distances that you live to come and play. I also understand today that it’s a huge cost associated with travel to get to the various venues. We are examining the possibilities of sourcing some means of transportation which will reduce the huge cost associated with team travel across the region. My message here today is clear – you do, we do.”
Forde also informed the gathering that very shortly, a new phase of the Academy Training Centre (ATC) programme will be introduced. This new phase will see the transition of ownership of the ATC to the Association. This strategy it was said will improve oversight, accountability, performance and ensure greater return on the investment we are making into this ground-breaking programme, which has already impacted the performance of our youth national teams.
“We will continue to fund the programme; we will train the coaches; we will pay the coaches; we will provide all the necessary materials and resources, but the programme will be operated by the RFA Executive Committee and their appointed members. So, I’m trusting that President Farias will do an excellent job in identifying the coaches that we will train over the next couple of years to deliver the quality of coaching that will have a long and lasting impact on football development across the region.”
President Forde also informed that funding was in the pipeline for the various tournaments, including the senior league and junior levels, that would be rolled out to the associations very soon.
“We’ve been very impressed with the manner in which the RFA has been utilising the funds that we have been making available to them and the extent to which they have been giving account for it. I want to ask you guys to give your executive committee every measure of support that they need to keep football alive and to cause it to continue on the positive path of growth that we have seen over the past couple of years,” he added
Mayor Macedo, in his remarks, encouraged the RFA to continue the great work it has been executing, stating that it had the full support of himself and the Town Council. He said that he met with the GFF and the RFA and committed to work together towards the continued development of facilities under their purview.
“I am proud to stand here today to say one year ago, what we have here, we hadn’t. We will continue to work with you to have the facilities developed; I know also that you need a ground where you can play high-end matches, where you can invite other senior teams to come and engage your teams. I promise you that I will work together with your leaders to have such a top facility,” he said.
The search is on, Mayor Macedo said, to locate land that will accommodate such a high-end facility.
“I want to commend you for your efforts, for what you have been doing for football in this region.”
President Farias, while welcoming all to the opening, proudly pronounced that it was the continuation of bigger and greater things to come for the RFA. Farias, who is also an executive member of the GFF, thanked all the stakeholders for their continued commitment to the game, especially the players.
“We will continue to work with the relevant entities to ensure we are able to get better playing surfaces for you which will have an even greater positive impact on the quality of players we produce here. We are committed to work with Mayor Macedo, the Town Council and the GFF to achieve better for you. Continue to play hard, play strong, listen to your coaches; we have a long football season ahead of us, keeping working hard and we’ll achieve greater heights.”
President Farias informed that the Champions League will see some 28 male teams and an equal number of female teams competing for the top place and bragging rights as the best in the RFA.
It is scheduled to conclude on May 30, 2020.
The defending champions are Guyana Rush Football Club (male) and Paiwomak Warriors FC (female).
Meanwhile, recording wins on the opening night were Gladiators over Tabatinga by a 3-2 margin in the females’ encounter while defending male champs, Guyana Rush Saints FC commenced their defence on a positive note when they brushed aside Tabatinga 3-1.