Focus must be on U-20 players
By Franklin Wilson
Former Technical Director of the Guyana Football Federation (GFF), Trinidadian Jamaal Shabazz is of the view that the local governing body should seek to develop more partnerships in Trinidad and Tobago and other countries, with a view to exposing more players.
Shabazz made these comments in an interview with Kaieteur Sport recently in the Twin Island Republic.
T&T, over the past 10-15 years has been excellent training grounds for local players who not only enhanced the level of their game and by extension Guyana, but have earned a decent living from playing there, Suriname and Barbados.
Collie ‘Hitman’ Hercules, Charles ‘Lily’ Pollard, Randolph ‘Blackhead’ Jerome, Nigel ‘Powers’ Codrington, Gregory ‘Jackie Chan’ Richardson, Walter ‘Boyd’ Moore, Howard Lowe and Abassi McPherson are among players who have benefitted, many moving on to bigger things, in the case of Richardson, who became the first Guyanese to play Major League Soccer in the USA.
Shabazz believes that the focus should be on Under-20 players who can play in the Super and Pro Leagues in T&T and elsewhere.
“Even though these players might not land big contracts, once they become professional it will help Guyana’s programme in a rapid way, because Guyana is not playing a lot of international matches so they are losing time and experience on the field.
That can only be made up if when players come together they are professional, and I think now is a crucial time that the Federation examine the resources it has and try to maximize, by forming partnerships with people in T&T, Suriname, Jamaica and North America.”
During Shabazz’ tenure in Guyana, the ‘Golden Jaguars’ rose to a formidable force in the Caribbean, achieving its best ever rating in the FIFA Coca Cola World rankings of sub 100.
In this tight economic atmosphere, Shabazz is of the view that the challenge is not to have a ‘move Klass movement’, but a ‘work with Klass movement’ in Guyana.
“I would like to see the people, who previously fought to move Mr. Klass, fight now to have a share and a say in the governance of the football and also for Mr. Klass and the GFF people, not divest power but to work with different sectors and enlist the support of people. It’s the only way, given the economic climate that the football can go forward.”
Win in CONCACAF programme
Commenting on this programme initiated by CONCACAF and CFU President Austin ‘Jack’ Warner with funding from FIFA, Shabazz posited that this is a big moment for Guyana who has decided to run a pilot national league.
“This could give the GFF the start it needs toward self sufficiency, the role that FIFA is playing in this national league. I would like to see people like the Kashif and Shanghai Organisation be given the opportunity to promote it.
I would like to see the GFF force clubs to train at a certain time to let the Technical Development Officer set an overall programme with a minimum requirement of training for each club.”
The Neal and Massey Caledonia AIA Technical Director believes that certain standards must be set now, which include each national league team having a minimum of 3 Under-20 players in the ‘A’ team as well as a national Under-20 team participating in the league as a club team.
“This will give exposure to your players that you cannot afford to get otherwise. So they cannot drop the ball – but this is not a ball for the GFF alone, this is a ball for the GFF and its affiliates and everybody to ensure maximum success.”
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