Mar 24, 2013 Sports
Controversy reigns in the Berbice Football Association following the election of office bearers for that entity just under one week ago.
Several clubs in that region are accusing the incumbency of unfair tactics and have sought the intervention of the Guyana Football Federation (GFF) to mediate on the issue.
But even before the Berbice controversy, executives of the Georgetown Football Association (GFA), had experienced similar turmoil and had sought the intervention of FIFA executives in the restoration of their own voting rights among other issues.
As a matter of fact, trouble seems to be brewing and the pundits are adamant that the situation will reach an unpleasant culmination on April 12, the day of voting for a President and other executives of the Guyana Football Federation (GFF).
Amidst such controversy and confusion, several football affiliates are priming up to contest those and several ambitious administrators spoken to thus far have all presented plans and objectives to grapple with such anomalies while offering grandiose manifestoes towards the elevation of the sport to its rightful place as the most attractive spectacle worldwide.
Amidst the hustle and bustle to ascend to the prestigious seat of the GFF Presidency, Permanent Secretary within the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports, Alfred R King believes that he possesses the requisite skill and competency to secure the prestigious prize and guide local footballers to the pinnacle of the sport.
A rangy individual, Alfred is bursting with enthusiasm and set out his plans and projections in an exclusive interview with Kaieteur Sport recently.
He said he has a foolproof manifesto and he is confident that after the voters would have perused his résumé, they would feel compelled to support his bid for the top football post locally.
A former Commissioned Officer of the Guyana Defence Force, Alfred comes with a wealth of academic qualifications supported by administrative and leadership experience. He has procured a Bachelor of Education (Distinction) from the University of Guyana even as he boasts of a stint at the Georgia State University, USA.
But academic achievement may not necessarily translate into the administrative skills towards the advancement of the sport.
Mr. Alfred agrees while pointing out that his involvement in football administration along with other accomplishments is meritorious and would stand him in good stead.
He said that he is a trained referee since 1996 after completing the course under the tutelage of FIFA Instructor, Lawrence ‘Sparrow’ Griffith.
His love for the sport was also encouraged him to seek an executive position on the Guyana Football Referee’s Council (GFRC) and in 2001; he managed to clinch the position of 1st Vice President.
“In those days, the referees’ council was basically a one man show with Lawrence Griffith serving a quintessential role as organizers, mobilize, coordinator…….as a matter of fact Griffith was the referee’s council,” Alfred chuckled.
Two years later, Alfred campaigned for and was successful in clinching the top post in the GFRC. Just one week prior to this interview he managed to secure reelection of that entity, an act he feels is fitting testimony of his administrative skills and one which has boosted his morale and strengthened his resolve to win the GFF presidential seat.
Mr. Alfred said that he is not one to bury his head in the sand; he is cognizant of the volume of work that is needed to restore some pride to the football fraternity and admits that it will take some time to get the situation on an even keel.
That apart, he believes that there are poignant issues that have contributed to the sad state of affairs and he plans to grapple them from his first day in the Presidential seat.
“I believe that there ought to be restrictions on timelines of GFF Presidents,” he emphatically stated. He believes that two terms, an equivalent of 4 years, is sufficient for anyone filling the post to impact on the forward thrust of the sport.
“The current situation where one individual is allowed to occupy the seat cause them to become too smug and could hamper the developmental process,” exhorted Alfred. As such he promises to initiate a process where the statutes will be accordingly adjusted from the first day of his ascendency.
The aspiring President next turned his attention to the issue of governance. He said that he would have felt a little more comfortable if he was given a unanimous mandate to push the sport forward.
“On too many occasions we are faced with an executive group with fragmented ideas that compromise the developmental flow,” asserted Alfred. He said that he would feel comfortable if he is given a unanimous mandate where all of the players support a common track of development.
The adequate, equitable and honest distribution of the Federation’s finances have been a sore point with many of the affiliates hinting at malfeasance on one hand and misuse of funds on the other.
Mr. Alfred said that he is aware of the accusations and posits that while past presidents may not have been involved in skullduggery, the lack of openness pertaining to financial transactions might be responsible for such epithets.
“That is why among my first tasks I will attempt to restore some credibility to this department,” promised Alfred. He said that the restoration of such trust and confidence can improve relations with the corporate community which would translate to more funding for local football development.
He is also adamant that the sport is limping because of a solid vision for football development based on Guyana’s reality. “Football in Guyana is in the doldrums and is nowhere close to what is required for World Cup (football) qualifications,” he opines. He further feels that the structures and facilities are in great need of enhancement as this department is very weak.
However, Mr. King feels that the time has come for football executives to find ways of attracting persons of high credibility to serve at the executive level. “Over the years competent professionals have volunteered their services but eventually retracted because of the adverse publicity surrounding the administrative department.”
He feels that the time has arrived for executives to revive the interest of professionals of such ilk. “And I intend to create the atmosphere to facilitate this,” vowed King.
The word out on the streets is that King’s political appointment may be a major setback since FIFA officials frown on Government interference in football affairs.
Mr. King scoffs at such sentiments while pointing out that FIFA statutes for qualification into their administrative ranks are clear cut and does not necessarily preclude appointment of government officials. “Furthermore, history is replete with football officials that are or were Government officials; the problem can only arise when politics seep into football administration and I have absolutely no intention of mixing the two variables,” assured King.
King’s nurtures lofty ambitions of securing the prestigious post and he is cognizant of the volume of work necessary to change the flagging fortunes of local footballers.
He is also aware of the quality of the other aspirants. Notwithstanding, he believes that his projections coupled with the will to implement the right strategies for the development of the sport will stand him in good stead and when the smoke is cleared he will be the last man standing.
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