By Michael Benjamin
The situation might not be as amenable as many football pundits may wish it to be but even the uninitiated would admit that the Normalization Committee has made immense strides ever since it was installed by FIFA to institute measures to regularize football activities locally.
Piloted by the hard work and dedication of its Chairman, Clinton Urling, that group, through tireless application, has put the necessary modalities in place to facilitate a smooth transition and is now preparing to have elections to install a President of the Guyana Football Association.
But even as affiliates prepare to cast their ballots, the developmental works continue and 8 teams are currently battling for prestige in the inaugural Stag Elite League which is providing football buffs with entertainment and eventually propel the winning team to the top of the local rankings.
These are early days yet but the Fruta Conquerors Football Club (FCFC) is currently leading on the points table with six points and a (positive 2) goal aggregate having scored three goals while conceding just one in their matches to date. The team was scheduled to play their third match against the GDF yesterday afternoon and that result can improve or demote the FCFC status, depending on the result.
The FCFC is certainly not in any comfort zone as two other powerhouse teams, Slingerz and Alpha ‘The Hammer’ United, are hovering tantalizingly close on 5 points and goal aggregates of positive 3 and 2 respectively. As the pundits will say, ‘The door is still wide open and it’s still anybody game.’
Wayne Forde is the President of the FCFC and though the prime accolade is still out of his grasp, he feels a sense of satisfaction that his team will be among the top guns when the smoke is cleared. He said that he is confident that his boys will maintain the tempo while aiming for the eventual top prize.
Yesterday afternoon, Mr. Forde engaged Kaieteur Sport in a wide range of discussions that dealt with his ambitions, the structure of his entity as well as a general overview of his club’s successes which he attributes to his shrewd management skills coupled with a strong input of his fellow executives.
His stewardship started in 2002 and one year later he led his club to the prestigious Kashif and Shanghai football title. This was a momentous achievement and had distinguished the club as a top one while highlighting the managerial skills of President Forde. He retained the presidency up until 2007 before declining the position and paving the way for another administrative football stalwart, Marlon Cole, to assume those duties.
Football administration was in his blood and his hiatus from the FCFC did not mean a total removal from football administration. The erstwhile forma FCFC boss took up another challenge, this time as a 1st Vice President of the Guyana Football Association (GFA), under the stewardship of Troy Mendonca.
Amidst it all, the sweet juice of the Fruta Conquerors still left an indelible taste on his tongue and six years after declining nomination for the position, Forde accepted a nomination and subsequently retained the coveted post after a close race with incumbent, Marlon Cole. It was then that the rebuilding process commenced.
“I tipped my hat to Marlon (Cole) for holding the club together even amidst strong economic and other challenges but upon my return I employed my brand of management strategies in a bid to bolster the fortunes of the club,” explained Mr. Forde in answer to a question.
He said that the challenges were many and needed a hands on and practical approach to change the fortunes of the club. “One of the most worrying things I discovered was that despite possessing a host of talented players, the club was unable to make the transition and win any significant championship,” he lamented.
Immediately upon acceding to office, Mr. Forde placed greater emphasis on youth development while streamlining the roles and responsibilities of his executives. He said that he also bolstered the infrastructure since he realized that no club could function effectively devoid of this component. Most importantly, the FCFC boss sought to develop an open and accountable relationship with his management team including fellow executives, coaching staff and other stakeholders.
The relationship enjoyed with the Guyana Beverage Company (GBC) is no secret; as a matter of fact, it is through this union that the club has assumed its name. “Mr. (Robert) Selman’s input is astounding and admittedly, the pillar of our development,” said Mr. Forde as he singled out the CEO of the GBC. “As a matter of fact, the club’s sobriquet ‘Fruta’ was attained from the orange juice produce of the GBC,” he explained.
The club also benefits from the benevolence of the National Milling Company (NAMILCO), which exclusively sponsors a yearly tournament that has grown in stature since its inauguration. Forde’s administrative input complimented by corporate support bore some fruit and by the end of the first 18 months in office he had led the club to its first major accomplishment, the Stag Beer League Championship, after a prolonged absence from the podium. That victory bolstered the staff that seemed to have experienced a reinvigoration.
Of all of their projects, Forde is especially proud of the youth concentration and he feels that it is here that the foundation of his entity lies. “My executive focuses heavily on youth development because we believe that herein lies the future of the sport,” explained Mr. Forde. He boasted that FCFC is a true model of what a hard core football organization should be. “Mind you, even though I sit in the Presidential seat, I do not hold myself aloof of my predecessors,” he said. He feels that each individual come to the table with different management techniques and skills and with a common goal of creating the environment for youth development through football.
“Marlon (Cole) and Ivor (Thompson) have served as Presidents before and both individuals have made viable contributions to the establishment of the club,” said Mr. Forde. These are just a few from a myriad of individuals that have etched their names and administrative styles to the advancement of the club and Mr. Forde said that the FCFC will always be indebted to them.
But where does Mr. Forde envisage the club to be a few years down the line? “We are mulling huge infrastructural works including an upgrade of lighting facilities to meet FIFA expectations,” he disclosed. Improved seating capacity and refurbishment of the clubhouse to enhance a social environment is also on the cards.
Indeed, the job is huge but the shrewd administrative approach by the President of the FCFC, as he toils with his executives, sponsors and other stakeholders may be the catalyst towards reinstatement of the club as a viable force on the local and by extension, the international scene. He is the glue that binds the seams.
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