-Not satisfied with the direction the game is going locally
Veteran football coach Jimmy McLean who has had successes both locally and
regionally has signaled his intention on his return to Guyana to work with all football stakeholders, and more importantly the Guyana Football Federation (GFF) to get the game on the right track since he is not satisfied with current route it’s on.
McLean was employed with the Department of Culture, Youth and Sports in the 1980s as a sport organizer and was responsible for working with youngsters to develop football in Region 10 (Upper Demerara/Kwakwani). After being impressed by McLean’s work, founder of the Hurricanes Sports Club based in the community of Retrieve in the “mining town”, Albert Rose, offered him the post of coach of the club’s youth football team in 1989 which later became Top XX Football Club.
Speaking to Kaieteur Sport, Jimmy McLean noted that based on his experience working with youths in the region, Top XX managed to put together a formidable squad when he joined because a lot of players were keen to register at the club due to the sporting relationship he had created with them during his time as the Ministry’s football coordinator in Region 10.
Success came early for the McLean led Top XX team and they won the Upper Demerara Football Association (UDFA) senior league in 1990 with predominantly under-19 players; a monumental feat.
In 1991, the Top XX youth team participated in the Caribbean Under-19 Cup in Barbados and finished second to the home team and in 1992, their debut year, McLean coached the team to championship honours in the Kashif and Shanghai tournament, their first of five titles.
The likes of former national players Colly Hercules, Randolph Jerome and former captain Charles Pollard came through the ranks of Top XX and McLean’s guidance before going to play in the then semi-pro league in Trinidad and Tobago in the mid 1990’s.
After a successful decade of coaching at the club, Jimmy McLean retired from the post of head coach at Top XX before the next chapter in his coaching career began three years later. In 2003, based on the recommendations of former Top XX players Kayode McKinnon and Carey Harris that were outfitting for the struggling T&T professional club North East Stars FC, he was offered the post of the head coach there which he gleefully accepted.
In his first year at North East he won the T&T Football Association knockout Cup, the oldest trophy in T&T football history, while finishing third in the league that year after finishing last the previous year. The Guyanese boys were on top as Charles Pollard, who was the captain for North East and Guyana, won the league’s MVP award, while Randolph Jerome was highest goal scorer with 27.
After rebuilding the team in 2003-04 season following their last place finished in the 2002-3 season, McLean employed five Guyanese, five Trinidadians and one player from St. Vincent in his usual starting 11. McLean’s and North East FC two year rebuilding plan was in full splendour when they copped the league’s championship trophy in his second year at the club, the 2004-05 season.
The Guyanese’s coaching career in T&T also saw him winning the semi-pro league with Economy Strikers FC, while enjoying coaching stints with secondary school teams Toco and Valencia before hanging up his coach’s hat in T&T in the year 2011.
McLean explained to Kaieteur Sport that based on his experience and his love and dedication to the game he would like to exercise his vast coaching knowledge to help the GFF either as an advisor or a youth development coach.
In fact, with limited support, he has kicked started a football youth development programme which he has aimed to be a countrywide initiative that will allow him to scout and facilitate the development of promising players from all across the “land of many waters”.
The base of the programme is currently in his home town of Kwakwani in Region 10. “The main reason I choose Kwakwani is because the Kwakwani community ground is one of the best in Guyana and also I live in that area and I want the youths from that area to excel because I believe that the ground have potential to produce exceptional talent,” McLean noted.
McLean noted his dissatisfaction with the scouting process of the GFF when gathering overseas based talent for the senior team and labeled it as shady since it squad at times include players who aren’t even attached to a club. His solution to the problem is to have local coaches doing the recruitment in a more diligent process but when quizzed about the avenue for the added financial burden the process will cost, that couldn’t be solved.
In closing, McLean shared that in order for Guyana’s football to head in the right direction, interim head Coach Wayne Dover should be removed, “I do not think that Dover has been successful enough to remain the head coach. I believe Pollard, the current assistant coach who I have coached as a player should take the top spot. Pollard has captained Guyana and T&T professional teams for many years and based on his player experience he would be a perfect fit for the Golden Jaguars head coach role.” (Calvin Chapman)
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