Mar 08, 2013 Sports
Elections for the Guyana Football Federation (GFF) are nigh, but scars from a recent two-decade old vice-grip at its top post are apparent. After half of a 26-month ban that wrestled the body’s running from a Colin Klass clench, there is uncanny haziness in sifting for a suitor to clutch the ‘business’.
The direction forward may call for a full-nelson; an M. Garth Nelson, literally.
Though he can take the shot, it won’t be an indirect one for the Federation’s International Coordinator to score a winner for Guyana’s football. Nelson would have to sap through a colander of inexplicable eligibility requirements that now engage other pretenders to the post.
He’s not uptight over those exigencies. His diligence in the sport sets up a strong challenge to other candidates in the reckoning ring since the world governing body – FIFA – clotheslined Klass in September 2011 for less-than-classy conduct. But, Nelson is not using the red card on the banned honcho to boot a free-kick to the GFF apex. Instead, he is audacious and prudent. “More considering a support role to whomever is elected”, and from a chartered affiliation position.
Thus, Nelson’s goal is the presidency of the subsidiary Upper Demerara Football Association (UDFA), and he is kicking passionately. “I am convinced I can help the Association make the necessary impact to develop our localized football and, in turn, contribute to improving our national football, ultimately.”
With viable ideas he’s a credible candidate for the UDFA top post, and doesn’t believe he needs to develop an entirely fresh slate to contest the position. “Though we need an infusion of fresh, resolute and creative thinking in our football, it’s not necessary to clean house; it’s just to reorient our thinking.”
He has the trust of the football fraternity in and outside of Guyana, and many think his candidacy is plausible thus providing cannon-fodder toward making up his mind to serve Upper Demerara football. “I can envision working with all the other guys. We’ve got to give everyone an ear whether inside the UDFA family or not. That’s the way you build consensus.”
Regarding recent ramblings in national football, he is gratified over the solution to the GFF/Georgetown Football Association impasse, and regarded the dispute between players and the GFF admin as “rather unfortunate”. “We got to show maturity to work things out and prevent harm to our football,” he said, adding that no tangle is too hard to unravel, “once we got true love for the sport and its development.”
His rasping résumé in football stretches from goal to goal. By the by, it was ex-national coach Jamaal Shabazz who advised the GFF in 2007 to engage Nelson as a coordinator for the Golden Jaguars after the latter was giving yeoman service to Guyana’s football internationally, but not in an official capacity.
Since then, Nelson has triggered Guyana’s football on the firing range, and his aim evidently shoots through his persuasive expressions. “We got the next World Cup and Olympics right in our backyard and we got to grab these prospects with both hands. We got to benefit big from this coincidence.”
In six years, his influence scored pro and semi-pro attachments on the bigger stages, and scouted talent and scholarships for a glut of Jaguars including Charles Pollard, Howard Lowe, Nigel Codrington, Randolph Jerome, Kevin Beaton, Nick Parbhudial, Ronson Williams, Abassi McPherson, Ryan Crandon, Devon Millington, JP Rodriguez, Sean Cameron and Gregory Richardson. Moreover, when Richardson fell out of favor at MLS level, Nelson secured a deal to Carolina Railhawks, at the time, coached by decorated Scotsman Martin Rennie, now at the helm of MLS’s Vancouver Whitecaps.
Rennie is among executives, clubs and associations with whom Nelson maintains links to ink contracts and promote talent exchanges. With fellow Linden-born uber sports devotee Colin Baker, Nelson helped organize Guyana’s return to play on US soil after two decades when they took on Guatemala in Atlanta in November 2010. “We need to get our players more frequent exposure home and abroad, and leverage such games to strike marketing deals for them and our football in general.” He and Baker are founding member of the US-based World Cup Committee that championed a wider programme of engaging overseas players and exposing locally-based players.
Also born out of Nelson influence was the Women’s National Team – Lady Jaguars – which got to the 2010 CONCACAF Gold Cup on the first try.
The Brooklyn College business admin graduate has unique plans for the sport in Upper Demerara and further afield. A novel initiative is establishing annual gala-like events to award players and officials, and honour fans and corporate partners. He desires Guyana’s football to swiftly “connect in the industry” as a viable marketing product. “I‘d like players get chances for higher education and endorsements, see football attract more and better sponsorship, and the fans and business partners get more value.”
In 2010, Nelson got the mandate to run the Beach Football Association – an arm of the GFF for the fast-growing version of the beautiful game – and, he built the sport to rival its standard cousin. After three years, the sport is a prized commodity; and a national team goes on a world tour in April, that includes play in CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers and the Virginia Beach Extravaganza in the US where a trio of Guyanese made waves in 2012. The team finally stops in Miami where “we expect a few players sign contracts with the first ever pro league,” he posited.
He got the new body, based in Linden and nicknamed ‘Red Jaguars’, to impact social fronts with varied activities including regular work with schools and NGOs on, primarily, health issues like HIV/AIDS – its adopted social awareness platform.
Five years ago, Nelson almost single-handedly organized an annual tourney – the popular New York-based Guyana-US Soccer League – especially for players of Guyanese heritage in the US to supplement talent searches to feed the national teams’ programmes.
Nelson views players’ international exposure as stimulus to develop all facets of football. He wants to use his vast alliance to leverage these opportunities by networking in, among others, the US, Canada, the Caribbean, the Middle East, Belgium and Spain where he had taken a dazzling Linden player for exposure in 2003. “While we search high and low for that kind of talent, we also have to surge ahead getting our local guys big time exposure, too.”
He said he has commitments for three colleges to secure full scholarships for suitable candidates from Linden. “Soon we can expect to have a number of Linden players sign to a few pro clubs in Israel and in the USA,” he added.
He’s even more open-minded on sports in general, demonstrating a broad perspective on football, and backed that up with respected vibes on other disciplines. “Sports can change people’s lives and their communities, if you think of it.” The young, influential Lindener also lobbies for the town’s sports icons to be meaningfully honoured, and reveres late versatile sports star Edward ‘Screw’ Richmond, notable basketball coach ’Sancho’ Alphonso, renowned boxer Terrence Alli and decorated international athlete Marian Burnett among a horde of footballers.
Nelson had created Burnett’s personal website and followed up with ones for the GFF, UDFA, Lady Jaguars, Jerome and others. Additionally, he launched the ‘I Got You’ Foundation under the aegis of Jaguars defender and former captain Pollard that heralded a promotional blitz using football as a domain for national unity and other topical issues in Guyana.
Nelson kept his aspiration in his gear bag until he charily navigated the pitch that now points to a successful outcome. He comes with far fewer question marks. He is a proven leader and innovator, one who has the unquestioned respect of players, officials and fans.
So, though his résumé and plans are worthy for a candidacy to the nation’s top football seat, M. Garth Nelson wants his service to benefit Upper Demerara, at first. He’s not going for the long ball, at this time; Just a tackle, a dribble, a chick and a kick at the UDFA presidency.
Like his names imply; he might just be the divinely influenced liberator to chart the area’s future football adventures. Moses Garth Nelson would be an ingenious keeper of UDFA’s flowering football paddock and ensure its rapid bloom.
It’s logical that for the UDFA top post, a full Nelson is the most suitable ‘business’ on the agenda.
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