Yesterday marked another momentous day in Guyana’s sporting history when the FIFA World Cup Trophy touched down on local soil for the first time in our country.
Standing 36 centimetres tall and weighing six kilogrammes, the 18-carat solid gold FIFA World Cup Trophy’s arrival at 09:00hrs at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport produced quite a buzz among the specially invited officials who were present to meet the visiting delegation.
Among those present to greet the visiting delegation, who arrived after a short flight from neighbouring Suriname following a 20-minute flight, were Minister of Sport Dr. Frank Anthony, President of the Guyana Football Federation Christopher Matthias and Banks DIH officials including Co-Managing Director George McDonald, Marketing Director Carlton Joao and Communications Manager Troy Peters, who all had the opportunity to be the first group to board the aircraft to view the magnificent trophy as part of its 22 stops on the Caribbean tour.
Apart from the above mentioned officials airport staffers, local journalists and curious on-lookers exhibited admirable patience to get a peep at football’s most coveted trophy and that chance came when an aged and bald gentleman, donning a pair of white gloves, emerged from the aircraft carrying the Italian Silvio Gaszzaniga’s
designed gold trophy, carefully concealed in a black suitcase.
Shortly after the visiting party deplaned a press conference was held in the Arrival Lounge of the airport, following which the solid gold trophy was unveiled by Dr. Anthony to ecstatic applause.
The trophy, which has the names of the World Cup winners inscribed on the base, remained in a display case throughout the day since it is said that touching the trophy is a right only granted to a Head of State of any given country and the World Cup winners.
The trophy is on its penultimate leg of the Caribbean tour, which will conclude today in Trinidad and Tobago, a fitting way to end the tour since it is the birth place of former Trinidad and Tobago, Manchester United and Aston Villa forward, Dwight EversleyYorke, who is acting in the capacity of FIFA Brand Ambassador.
Yorke speaking at yesterday’s press conference said, “It’s a privilege to be here in Guyana as a Brand Ambassador of FIFA. Of course our major sponsor in Coca Cola making this possible. Touring around the Caribbean and seeing the looks on people’s faces over the past few days tells me a lot. This is a special day because it’s in Guyana- a developing nation in the world of football.”
The Soca Warriors captain during the 2006 World Cup campaign noted that Guyana is a young football nation, even as he reflected on the Golden Jaguars’ success over his fellow countrymen in the 2014 World Cup qualifiers.
“And that goes to show that passion here in Guyana. We know that cricket is probably the first love in this part of the world, but over the years you have been a developing country and your reward was obviously beating Trinidad and Tobago,” the Brand Ambassador stated.
He added, “But on a serious note, I’m sure that with the trophy being in this country it will encourage young people to continue to progress in the world of football and bring people together because football is such a global sport. As a Brand Ambassador, I’m very privileged by the fact that I was given the opportunity to represent not just my country Trinidad but the whole of the Caribbean.”
Dr. Anthony, in his remarks, said all Guyanese should be proud to be part of this “history making” event, as he reflected on the trophy’s journey since it started in 2014 World Cup host country Brazil.
He pointed to the fact that the trophy will travel more than three times the circumference of the earth, covering a distance of 149,576.78 kilomentres or 92,942.702 miles.
Matthias said he is hopeful the partnership by FIFA and Coca Cola will help to “touch lives”, as he delivered remarks on behalf of the local football fraternity.
“It is indeed fitting to commend Coca Cola- a corporate giant- for this initiative for partnering with FIFA and bringing to 89 football-loving nations a tangible part of football so that the many who are unable to attend the World Cup can be made to feel part and parcel of the institution of football,” the GFF head pointed out.
McDonald said FIFA and Coca Cola have shared a strong alliance and his company is proud to share in the historic moment where Guyanese can be afforded an opportunity to view the trophy in its true form.
After the formal proceedings at the airport, the trophy was taken to Thirst Park where staff of Banks DIH Limited and members of the security services were given a chance to take photographs with the sparkling trophy.
Thereafter, special invitees were allowed to view the magnificent piece of gold and take photographs during a four-hour programme at the Sports Club.
Young footballers were involved in novelty activities to mark the historic occasion- the first time the trophy has come to these shores.
This is the third time that the original FIFA World Cup trophy is going on tour around the world.
Following tours in 2006 and 2010, the 2013/2014 tour will visit 89 countries during its 267-day duration.
It was developed through an exclusive partnership between FIFA and Coca-Cola, one of FIFA’s longest-standing corporate partners.
Meanwhile, speaking at the official ceremony at Thirst Park last evening, Chairman\ Managing Director Clifford Reis said it is a privilege to have the trophy in Guyana and Banks DIH is happy to partner with Coca Cola. He stated that the event is a timely boost which will serve as an encouragement to the football fraternity locally.
President Donald Ramoutar said that sports promote discipline and have an important role to play in the development of any society and will bring beneficial effect to our nation. He congratulated FIFA and Coca Cola adding that football has a positive effect on the world where it unites people. He said that more Guyanese can witness the World Cup finals in neighbouring Brazil in 2014.
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