By Rawle Welch
Describing the trip as an overwhelming success, former national player and Pele Captain Patrick ‘Labba’ Barton in an interview with Kaieteur Sport said that the club’s 40th Anniversary celebrations have gone well so far.
Barton, who along with a host of former Pele stars are in town to participate in a host of activities planned by both the United States of America Alumni and the Local Organising Committee of the club disclosed that everything to date has had good success to the extent that it has pleasantly surprised the visitors, especially with the turnout at
all the events that has been executed.
Barton, a former national standout, who is perhaps the youngest player to make the senior national team resides in the USA and is one of the leading figures to initiate the Pele Chapter whose sole purpose is to give back to the players at home and assist in the further development of the game.
Speaking with this newspaper, Barton expressed joy at the large turnout of young players, 67 in number at the mini camp, while he lauded the coaches for their enthusiasm and commitment displayed during the staging of the coaches’ camp.
“The turnout on both occasions was encouraging and it tells us that these things need to be continued not just on a one time basis, but more consistently,” Barton stated.
He revealed that they’ve already asked the coaches that attended the sessions to continue the programme on a more regular basis and it does not have to be done in such an elaborate manner as was the order on their visit.
The club which is one of the most distinguished and popular in Guyana has an illustrious history that saw them produce some of the best players locally and racked up most of the prestigious trophies in Guyana’s soccer history.
Among the top players that the club has produced apart from Barton are Keith ‘Bumpy’ Layne, Keith ‘Wiler’ Niles, Terry Nichols, Wendell Sandiford, Vibert ‘Durdy’ Butts, Gregory ‘Pte’ Stewart, all who formed a major part of the national setup of 1976 that managed to defeat Suriname after many years of trying.
According to Barton, that win has to rank as the highlight of his career, especially since it happened right here in Guyana in front of home support.
Returning to the purpose of the visit, Barton said it was meticulously planned and members from all parts of North America teleconferenced over a period of nine months, before concluding with a programme that they are satisfied was well worth the effort.
So far, the US Alumni has presented over 80 balls, 30 pairs of soccer boots, coaching equipment, gears for the juniors and three full set of uniforms for the seniors to the club, all due in part to the solicitations back home, donations from former members of the club and successful fund raisers.
Meanwhile, another visiting member Ivor Carrington in his remarks echoed the same sentiments expressed by Barton, adding that the project was highly successful according to him not only for the involvement of the community, but the support of the local executive committee as well.
“The one very surprising positive is the attitude and commitment of the kids, they really showed us that they want to learn not only from the on-field standpoint, but the respect and positive attitude that they displayed indicated that anything could be achieved and those attributes are very encouraging to us” Carrington said.
He, however, noted that planning for such a tour necessitates hard work, but said that it is worth it.
Carrington mentioned that from the success of this tour everyone have seen the other side of them and what they’ve been able to achieve in terms of giving back.
The visitors wrap up their tour tonight with an Awards Presentation Dinner & Dance at the Umana Yana where the keynote address will be give by Minister of Sport Dr. Frank Anthony.
Fifteen individuals including three females will be honoured for their outstanding support and service to the club over the period.
The tour continued with a double header last evening featuring the US-based veteran versus their counterparts from Pele and the senior squad vs. a Rest combination, at the GFC ground.
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