Guyana’s ‘Golden Jaguars’ WC Qualifiers launched
National pride at stake, we cannot afford to be stingy with our monies – Dr. Anthony
Guyana’s football has a dream – Shabazz
By Rawle Welch
“With national pride at stake, we cannot be stingy with our monies, we have to sit seriously and discuss how to raise the kind of money that the team’s preparations require,” Sport Minister Dr. Frank Anthony told the executive of the Guyana Football Federation (GFF) during the launching of the Golden Jaguars’ World Cup campaign yesterday, at the Princess Hotel.
Dr. Anthony, who first apologised for the absence of President Donald Ramotar, who it was told was on an overseas engagement, called on the GFF to engage the Government in dialogue with regards to the support needed for a successful campaign for the ‘Golden Jaguars’ who’re scheduled to participate in the third round of competition of the FIFA 2014 World Cup to be played in Brazil.
Speaking before a large gathering that included representatives of sponsors, executive and members of the GFF General Council, Mayor Hamilton Green, President of the GOA K.A Juman Yassin, former West Indies Captain Clive Lloyd, Managing Director of Princess Hotel Muherrem Kulekci, special invitees, Marketing representatives Kashif Muhammad and Aubrey ‘Shanghai’ Major and the media, Dr. Anthony, perhaps, stirred by a very philosophical and at times uncompromising speech made earlier by Technical Director Jamal Shabazz, opened by assuring all that the Government is fully supportive and cognizant of the endeavours of the GFF and the Golden Jaguars’, adding that the sobriquet of the team cannot in anyway be associated with the cat that is native to Guyana, but has now become a brand that exemplifies excellence.
He pointed out that the steady climb up the FIFA rankings by the ‘Jaguars’ shows that in spite of the challenges they face, they are determined to do well, but one of the problems that continue to exist is the fact that they’ve not been able to get the public to understand and appreciate the historic achievements of the team.
“I am one who truly believes that despite our ethnic differences, sports could play an integral role in bringing us together and break down those barriers that currently exist,” Dr. Anthony said.
He called on the nation to combine their efforts and put all their resources together because all the evidence suggest that nothing can stop a nation that is unified and supportive of the endeavours of its people.
“There is nothing that stops passion and I believe that the players understand the significance and importance of what they are doing and I feel that they will go out there and play their hearts out for us so we have to give them that needed support. We have to believe, we have to believe that we can do it and I call on the people of this country to start to mobilize and rally around them,” Dr. Anthony stated.
He referred to them as heroes and called on all Guyanese and more directly the media to make them into household names.
Dr. Anthony paid tribute to the work of Shabazz, adding that the Ministry and by extension the Government have recognised what he is doing, pointing out that had it not been for his efforts, maybe we would not have progressed to this stage.
He assured that the Government has always worked with Federations to ensure that they are successful whenever they host major events and pledged similar support for the GFF in Guyana’s upcoming engagements against the mighty Mexicans, Costa Ricans and El Salvadoreans during their WC qualifiers.
He urged Acting GFF President Franklin Wilson to include the Government in any Local Organising Committee (LOC) setup, especially when it is on record that they possess the requisite knowledge and skill to prepare for events of such magnitude.
“I am issuing a call here today to the GFF to meet with the Government to discuss the areas they may need assistance and we would be more than willing to offer our expertise and personnel that could make the hosting of the matches a success,” Dr. Anthony said.
Shabazz, whose remarks followed those of representatives of Ansa McAl under their Stag brand, GT&T, Bakewell, Demerara Distillers Ltd, SponSports, and Ashmin’s gave what was undoubtedly the most poignant presentation of the Launch.
He started out his touching remarks by reflecting on his initial sojourn to Guyana which he said was kind of sad after witnessing the amount of players with raw talent and passion, but no facilities to harness it.
Shabazz disclosed that his next stint in Guyana saw him come as a Caribbean man, one who came to use sport to lift the image and fortunes of Guyana and the Region at large.
“We are as good as those in Europe and Australia and all the other big countries in the world and I could give as an example Lloyd, who led a team from the Caribbean that managed to beat the English, Australians and all of them,” Shabazz said.
Known for his motivational speeches, Shabazz exuded the passion for the ‘Golden Jaguars’ that sometimes contradicts his Trinidad and Tobago nationality.
He spoke of previous remarks made by former and current influential figures in the sport in the Region, informing that they never believed that a Coach from these parts could lead a team from the Caribbean to this stage of the World Cup.
“What I saw on my return was the coaches and players at the bottom suffering despite all the sacrifices they make, and that was a big problem for me because the politicians think about power and not the people.”
Shabazz said he was encouraged by the different approach he witnessed from the new GFF where a group of people were willing to work together for the common good of the team and pleaded with them to continue to take care of the players.
Sport according to Shabazz could cross continents and connect people, adding that the athletes are the most important asset.
“I was in Kenya sometime ago and no one knew Eric Williams, Forbes Burnham or Cheddi Jagan, but almost everyone knew Clive Lloyd, Dwight Yorke, Brian Lara etc,” he emphasised.
The TD spoke of the illusion of some who feel that it is a team that qualifies, informing that contrary to that belief, it is a nation that qualifies.
Shabazz stressed the need for Guyana to rally around the ‘Jaguars’, before using September 11, 2011 as a vivid example of how a collective approach could reap rewards.
“What the Trinidadians saw was not a fractured Guyana, but a Stadium full of Guyanese rooting for one purpose, despite the fact that it was an elections season and everyone knows the history of this country around that time. If we approach the upcoming games as a collective people we would not be scared to play Mexico, Costa Rica of El Salvador,” Shabazz felt.
According to the TD, Guyana’s football has a dream.
Wilson in his presentation extended thanks on behalf of the GFF to all the sponsors and the Government, including a special commendation to former President Bharrat Jagdeo, who according to him was instrumental in instigating the relationship between the two parties under his stewardship.
He also paid special recognition to the business community who according to him came on board at strategic times to inject their support and the GFF is indeed grateful for their timely intervention.
Special thanks were also extended to the clubs, coaches, players and the media for their respective support over the years.
During the proceedings, all present was privileged to hear a beautiful rendition of the theme song ‘Yes they are Guyanese’ by Adrian Dutchin and Jomo, while Lisa Punch did two stanzas of the National Anthem.
Many present described the occasion as befitting the performances of the ‘Jaguars’ and could serve as added motivation for the team to produce their best.
The locally-based ‘Jaguars’ were also in attendance along with the coaches.
Tickets for the games go on sale from tomorrow, at Ashmin’s.