Focus in on laying the foundation for the future of the game in Guyana – Shabazz
By Franklin Wilson
Under the astute direction of Guyana Football Federation Men’s National Team Head Coach Jamaal Shabazz and his experienced Technical Staff, which also includes long time Assistant Coach Wayne ‘Wiggy’ Dover, The Golden Jaguars commenced the first phase of training yesterday at the Guyana Defence Force Ground, Camp Ayangana.
This phase, which would see the players being evaluated as they return to training for the new season, saw 25 of the 26 players called showing up, the only player not to make an appearance was Gregory ‘Jackie Chan’ Richardson.
Shabazz said that he was not aware of the reason (s) for Richardson’s non-show but he was very pleased with the turn out as they seek to build the platform for the way forward.
“We will use this as an opportunity to inspire players to form a good team. Of course we also looking at the re-start of the Stag Elite League FINALE next week and that will be another form of evaluation.”
Since there is some time remaining before the Elite League gets going with the second and final half, Shabazz informed that there would be three more sessions this week. He noted that it is not the intention of the Technical Staff to be taking players out of their clubs when they are playing.
It will be a similar approach to that which is made for players who are based overseas where players are requested 5 to 6 days before. The incentive he underscored is for players to play with their club (s).
The Golden Jaguars are preparing for competition in the Caribbean Football Union Men’s Caribbean Cup, Guyana drawn in Group 5 along with Puerto Rico and Anguilla. Round 1 matches are slated to be played between March 21-29.
Like in previous years, the door to other players being considered is always open according to Shabazz. He said that while this group of players is what they have started with they might not finish with this group.
“Once the players are active, they can be in the association, they could be in the jungle, they could be playing up in the mines in Kaituma; once they are playing we can work with them. We won’t know everybody, the scouting system is being set up so we are calling on anybody, once they see it’s a Jaguar, send them, we taking Jaguars.”
Rebuild Respect For Football
This new phase of training for the National Team Shabazz posited is being focused on rebuilding respect for football not just in Guyana but in the entire region.
“It is important that we build a project not just a team; a project that could bear fruits five, six years down the road. Before we’ve had the team focused on qualifiers, this is not focused on CFU; this is focused on laying the foundation for the future of the game in Guyana.”
To aid in this project, Shabazz shared that they have retained some of the old Golden Jaguars with a view to assisting in guiding the process of transition.
“And we’ll be brining in some young players who certainly have some talent and needs to be in the right environment.”
The charismatic coach in a straight up talk with players just before they commenced training informed them that they do not have time for problems.
“We’ve come for solutions we’ve come to make the national team into something that the nation would be proud of. If someone wants to be part of this they would be here, if you are not here, you don’t want to be part of this.”
Shabazz noted that they want to attract so that football can attract sponsorship and players can get ads like happens in cricket.
“I’m not seeing any ads with national footballers all over the place, I see it with cricket and there must be a reason for this. Football has got to generate that type of respect, because it is needed that players must earn proper salaries and have a big income.”
For the remaining sessions this week (Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday) and next week (Tuesday), the focus will be on building the pattern of play using fitness work. A Camp will then follow just prior to an international friendly match against Suriname in Guyana on February 21st, next.
The overseas based players will be considered for the CFU Men’s Caribbean Cup in March. Shabazz stated that the local based players would be used to build the team and they will bring in overseas based players to add where necessary.
Commenting on the strength of the two CFU opponents for Guyana between March 21-29, Shabazz indicated that there are no soft teams or opponents around now since nations have players who are based in other countries that they turn to for strengthening their respective teams apart from having leagues.
“No more time to take anybody for granted there’s no given. The only thing in football today is that we’ve got to work hard and get the result. Listen, who would have thought that the special one would have had to leave Chelsea? There are no more guarantees in football.”
Shabazz is calling on all the stake holders to support the GFF in making the team the best prepared since it takes a lot of financial investment in order to succeed today.
“Football costs a lot of money to run. The national team needs a lot of resources if you want to develop a squad that can compete. Outside of what FIFA gives to a federation, you need corporate Guyana to step on board and government. It cannot be done without a tripartite approach; GFF, Government and Corporate Guyana. This is what will drive this project to success.”
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