By Michael Benjamin
Amidst the many dissenting voices and the heated debates, Alpha United Football Club (AUFC), by dint of its
achievements, has undoubtedly distinguished itself as the top football unit locally. The team’s participation in the CONCACAF Champion League tournament is endorsement of their number one status and the players are currently battling to retain their status among some of the best teams in CONCACAF.
Despite the nationalistic fervour and despite the pride and honour that will be translated to this nation, the team has failed to attract the support of the masses in the stadium or that of a wide cross section of the business community during preparation.
It was this reality that has forced Alpha Utd President, Odinga Lumumba, during a press conference, to voice his disappointment at the lukewarm support of the corporate community and the fans alike. Indeed, the crowd attendance at the Alpha/Olimpia confrontation has left much to be desired with the sum total of fans occupying just one of the bleachers on the western side of the venue.
During most of his press briefings of recent, Lumumba has launched a scathing attack against some members of the business community, the media corps and fans for their laissez-faire disposition in regards to the advancement and support of the local team and he went so far as to label them as unpatriotic.
Football is indeed a popular sport and despite the many issues that have stalled its advancement locally, fans still continue to support the promotions, be it Mayor’s Cup, the League matches or any other match organized by the promoters. As stated before, Alpha FC has managed to endear itself to quite a large following but conversely, has attracted a few naysayers that are hardly enthused by the team’s accomplishments. This is understandable; what is not, is the total disregard for nationalistic endeavours where personal feelings unreasonably overlap thus compromising the development of football or any other discipline for that matter.
When the Golden Jaguars were battling in the World Cup Qualifiers last year, the nation turned out in full support and it was indeed a joy to behold as Guyanese donned yellow T shirts, emblazoned with the local team’s logo, filled the National Stadium, Providence, in support of the local ball weavers. The team went on to defeat their counterparts from Trinidad and Tobago and though they subsequently failed to qualify in the tournament, undoubtedly, had moved one step closer after the victory over their twin island neighbour. This says a lot for support and one would have expected similar response from Guyanese when Alpha faced off with Olimpia a few weeks ago.
This was not the case and while there is no evidence to support the adverse theories extended by the pundits, one is tempted to say that the meagre support of the public at the matches might have been a major factor in the team’s lukewarm performance.
Though the loss to Olympia might be somewhat of a setback, all is certainly not lost and Alpha Utd still has an opportunity to bounce back when they face off with US team, Portland Timbers, at the Providence venue Tuesday 19 next but the support of the Guyanese public, reminiscent of that received by the Golden Jaguars in their match against the Trinidadians, is of vital importance to their advancement.
On the issue of corporate support, it would be nice if the many companies could reach out a helping hand, donating generously toward the team’s efforts. During the press conference Lumumba lamented the absence of adequate corporate support and said that this had had an adverse bearing on the team’s preparation and the eventual result of their encounter with Olimpia.
The media also came in for some ‘blows’ as Lumumba feels that the team’s activities ought to receive concomitant publicity in order to encourage support. Whether this is a fair statement or not, what is apparent is that Alpha Utd is in need of moral and financial support if the players are to advance. It is unheard of in these modern days of sport that a foreign team may venture on local soil and just breeze of with the spoils while the home team lacks moral support. The principals of Kashif and Shanghai proved that Guyanese are sports lovers and could be wooed to the venues in support of their team. As Alpha Utd attempt to procure similar national honours one would suppose that fans would want to support their advancement. A good turnout at the National Stadium, Providence, on match night would be a good start in supporting the team’s aspirations.
The players were in action at the game venue yesterday afternoon when an Alpha ‘A’ team battled a ‘B’ team and Vice President of the Alpha United Football Club, Steve Ninvalle, said that the match was a means of giving the coaching staff a closer look the players to come up with the best starting line up and bench. He said that the squad has reignited its passion to win and is now playing with a sense of purpose after the loss to Olympia. “There is now improved communication on and off the field between the foreign and local players,” said Mr. Ninvalle. We say that the application of the players supported by a huge turnout by the supporters could be just what is needed to propel Alpha United FC to the next round of the tournament.
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