By Franklin Wilson
The just concluded Guyana Football Federation/Pele Alumni/Frank Watson Memorial National U15 championships, which ended on Saturday last with FC Eagles of the West Demerara Football Association coming out winners, has been described as a, ‘thorough learning experience’ by President of the Federation, Wayne Forde.
In an invited comment, Forde noted that the partnership between the Pele Alumni and the GFF, which is for five-years, can only get better, based on the objective of both entities which include the empowerment of youths through the medium of sports.
The competition had kicked off in 2017 with the Intra Association leagues which each Regional Member Association of the GFF was mandated to complete their respective leagues within a given time frame, but that proved to be very challenging for many of the RMA’s.
“The first years of the tournament were a thorough learning experience for the GFF and the Regional Member Associations. We must keep in mind that this is a new approach to youth football that my administration has introduced.
As promised during our campaign, we have gone out and secured the sponsorship for nine of our RMAs thus, ensuring that U15 Football is played in a coordinated manner across Guyana. This tournament ties into the Academy Training Centre programme which is also a new programme that was introduced by my Administration.”
Hundreds of players were exposed to the rudiments of the game in the Rupununi, Essequibo, Bartica, West Demerara, East Bank, East Demerara, Upper Demerara, Berbice and Georgetown Football Associations during 2017/2018 with top teams emerging to contest the National Playoffs and Finals.
Atkinson Brothers of Moruca joined the nine RMA champions to contest the National Playoffs and Finals where FC Eagles defeated Santos of the GFA 2-0 to be crowned the inaugural National Champions.
Eagles played undefeated in the Playoffs and Finals, getting past Timehri Panthers in the Playoffs and subsequently sealing the championship with wins over Tabatinga FC, Rising Stars and Santos in the Finals.
Forde, whilst extending congratulations to all the clubs which participated to make the entire project a success, also acknowledged that many of the RMA’s found it a challenge to get the ball rolling in a consistent manner.
“We have observed that many of our members found it difficult to complete the tournament within the timelines outlined in the competition calendar, which affected the playoff. However, we will now work closer with the members and provide whatever support is needed to ensure a smoother operation of the tournament for 2019. Youth football is critical to the development of the game and under my leadership the GFF will continue to invest heavily in this area.”
Visionary leadership is always needed to set oneself apart from the rest and that is what has been forthcoming from the Pele Alumni in the USA which, without hesitation has partnered with the federation to invest in the development of young people.
The Pele Alumni has a rich history when it comes to investment in young people and has been conducting youth empowerment programmes for many years, targeting youths here in Guyana. The organization is currently investing on a monthly basis, in about six youths through scholarships.
President Forde also offered his take on the impact of the partnership between the two organizations, noting that the Pele Alumni is a compelling model for former players to emulate.
“These gentlemen make a meaningful contribution to these young boys that will positively impact their lives beyond their playing days. They have made a contractual commitment for five years and it is the desire of the GFF to reciprocate value for that investment and explore additional features to the tournament in the years to come.”
For the first time, the Essequibo Football Association was afforded the opportunity to host a national playoffs when they welcomed Atkinson Brothers and Rising Stars to the Cinderella County for the Cluster 3 playoffs which also included home team, Dartmouth Dominators.
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