By Santokie Nagulendran
There seems to be a general consensus of ‘cautious optimism’ amongst followers of Guyanese football in regards to FIFA’s appointment of a 5-member Normalisation Committee to handle the affairs of the Guyana Football Federation. Optimistic because new faces have been installed, with no ties or links to previous administrations which have let Guyana down, yet also cautious, knowing that in Guyana, there has not been a transparent and effective administration running football for the past three decades.
However, so far, all signs indicate that the committee can, and will, make a positive change for the long-term benefit of the beautiful game in the country. Firstly, all members are working for no salary, there is no personal financial gain to be made from the venture, secondly, none of the five members can stand for GFF Presidential elections next year, meaning there is no personal political gain to be made either.
Clinton Urling, the nominated chairman of the committee, was in Miami last week meeting with CONCACAF President Jeffrey Webb, to discuss the new vision of the GFF and what steps will be taken to ensure development, with Urling saying afterwards “Faith in Guyana football must be restored, however, the cooperation and involvement of all football stakeholders and the country as a whole is required. Guyana is a country with amazing football potential.”
Engaging with stakeholders will be the committee’s most problematic task, as they need to engage and build positive relationships with all the sub-associations in Guyana, starting with a decision on what will happen in regards to Guyana’s traditional year-end tournament. Kashif and Shanghai are planning to launch the 25th edition of their annual tournament, yet there is uncertainty over whether they have been granted permission to do so, and this is the first thing that must be resolved. Beyond that, there are numerous matters which the committee must address, yet also an opportunity for the committee to really change football in Guyana for the better.
With no current start date given to the GFF Super League, Guyana’s players are losing out on valuable competitive game time and development, so it is essential the committee also gets the league back on track. A fully functioning domestic league will assist in building a strong National Team that can not only make Guyana proud, but also generate valuable finances from International football fixtures, and use the revenue to aid the development of football in Guyana.
I spoke to former National Team Head Coach, and current Head Coach of Alpha United, Wayne Dover, about the tasks the committee faces: “The committee have their work cut out, it’s a tough task ahead, but I’m optimistic things will get better. However, I think the committee needs to prioritize their work and push it through to get things done in time,” Dover said. Further elaborating on what he felt needs to be done as a priority, Dover said, “First, the National League needs to be started, then a National Team needs to be created.” Longer-term initiatives Dover felt needed to be addressed by the committee also included educating coaches and administrators, and the creation of a professional league in Guyana.
Aware that this is a massive under-taking for the committee, Dover went on to say: “I think the one year mandate FIFA has given the committee is too short to achieve all this, so the prudent thing is for them to ask for another year extension.” Indeed, along with the day-to-day tasks involved with running the federation, the committee will also need to reform the GFF constitution, and ensure the President who takes over has a smooth transition into the role by September 2015.
Vurlon Mills, a National Team player who featured in Guyana’s historic World Cup qualifying campaign, was optimistic about the installation of the committee, saying, “Guyanese football has been at a stand-still for the longest time, with a lot of negative air circulating the football fraternity. Personally, I want to see a big change in Guyana’s football; now with the Normalisation Committee I’m hoping for some positive changes.” Mills also spoke of what he felt needs to be addressed by the committee: “I’d like for them to get the National programme back on track from junior level to senior, and put a programme in place to keep it permanent. Also, to put systems in place to conduct more youth academies for the development of the game, but I know changes don’t happen overnight so I’m not expecting it to be done tomorrow, but with the right administration and planning it can be done.”
Whilst Guyana’s footballing landscape has been dogged by trials and tribulations in the past, it is important to stay positive and support the new committee as they look to help the footballing development of the nation, which is what we all want. Nothing showed the positive support Guyanese Football has more than on Tuesday 11th November, when Guyanese fans,(both in Guyana and across the world), took to social media to post pictures wearing yellow shirts in honour of the achievements the National Team made on 11/11/2011 by defeating Trinidad and Tobago in a historic World Cup qualifier.
With fans clearly still behind the Golden Jaguars and wishing it every success, it is hoped the Normalisation Committee can start building the platform for the Golden Jaguars to roar once again.
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