Football is back: GFF announces return of local tournaments
By Jemima Holmes
Players, fans and some organisers have for months begged for the return of football in Guyana, in the face of the Coronavirus pandemic. And, for many months, those persons have been met with the disappointment of knowing that the sport was not ready to get back on its feet.
Now not only have the Guyana Football Federation (GFF) secured the go-ahead, but they will also be lending a helping hand to their regional member associations (RMAs) to ensure that there is an abundance of tournaments to choose from.
For what can be seen as an important event, considering the constraints of the Coronavirus pandemic, presidents and executives of the GFF’s nine regional member associations (RMAs) gathered at the GFF Training Centre at Providence on Friday morning, since they would be the ones spearheading the restart of the sport.
Competitions galore have been promised by the GFF, as President Wayne Forde detailed the upcoming tournaments while highlighting the role that the Federation would play alongside the RMAs, as football returns.
“The Guyana Football Federation, in partnership with its nine regional associations, intends to play four competitions for the remaining months of the official football season of 2022. These four competitions include two male tournaments and two female tournaments. Namely, we intend to play the Regional Association’s Senior Men’s League, which is scheduled to kick off simultaneously across all nine of our regional associations,” the GFF President disclosed.
He continued, “We also intend to play the GFF Women’s Development league, which will be kicked off on May 12. And at the moment, we have 16 registered clubs for that tournament. We intend also to play the NAMILCO Flour Power U17 Boys league, and that is scheduled to be kicked off on the 21st of May. And finally, we intend to launch the Bluewater U15 Girls Development League, which is scheduled also to be kicked off on the 15th of May.
“The GFF Competitions Department is working very closely with our regional associations to ensure that the regulations for these tournaments are properly put together, the fixtures are done properly, and that all the necessary preparations are being made to the highest possible standard, to ensure that the competition can be of high quality,” Forde concluded.
Golden Jaguars Head Coach Jamaal Shabazz, who welcomes the idea, has found it remarkable of the GFF to assist the associations with the necessary resources to facilitate the restart of competitions.
“This is a big moment for Football in Guyana to get back out on the field at the regional level. First, I want to commend the Guyana Football Federation, in terms of displaying the vision to outfit the regional associations and clubs, as they have been doing with this MFAP programme. I think that showing that ability to hold the hand of the regional association, and not just leave the associations on their own, is saying something very profound,” Shabazz articulated.
He went on to say, “It shows a deep recognition of their role as the senior group in charge of football.”
From the RMAs, Georgetown’s Otis James spoke of the sport as a unifying tool, while Essequibo Coast and Pomeroon’s Maxine Stewart had encouraging words for her fellow RMA leaders.
James shared with the gathering, “Football is back. We should all hold our hands together and say thanks to the GFF for assisting us in putting this great programme together. As we sit together this morning, I want to encourage not just the nine associations, but the players and the fans, to embrace each other and let us put football first.
He added, “I think football would not just help the growth and development of the youths, but it can help us unite this country.”
Maxine Stewart encouraged, “I want to say to our member associations, sometimes you have to be the driving force behind. Not because you’re the President you lay back and get it done. I think sometimes you will fail because you have to be the person to drive. And as Coach Shabazz said, you don’t just sit and think you arrive, you’ve got to get out there, meet with the clubs and get, and it wasn’t an easy task for the Essequibo coast.”
The RMAs were also presented with gear and equipment for the spearheading of their tournaments, alongside a trophy. The presentation is said to fall under the GFF’s Members Financial Assistance programme (MFAP) initiative.