Jan 17, 2021 Sports
By Sean Devers
Kaieteur News – President of the Guyana Football Federation (GFF) Wayne Shawn Forde informed that Infrastructure is the greatest challenge for sports in Guyana.
Forde, speaking on the Sean Devers Sports Watch on Kaiteur Radio, also explained why International Football has to be played at the Providence Stadium, used predominantly for Regional and International cricket and which lasted hosted International Football when Guyana’s Golden Jaguars played Canada in 2016.
The GFF Boss spoke about the condition of the National Track & Field Stadium at Leonora as a Football venue, while adding the even when fully completed, the GFF Training facility at Providence, despite being of International size, won’t be able host International Football because of its artificial surface.
Only youth football is allowed to be played on an artificial surface while professional Football has to be played on a Turf pitch.
The businessman, whose second and final terms ends in 2023, spoke about the legacy he wants to leave which includes the construction of an International Football Stadium at Durban Park, Georgetown where the sod was turned in February 2019.
However, until then, International Football has to be played at the Providence Stadium, which has a capacity of 15,000 and is only the Sporting venue locally that can accommodate six Cameras from different angles for live TV coverage of games.
“I will speak for all Sporting Associations. One of the biggest challenges that we have for the development of sports across Guyana is infrastructure.
If you speak to anyone in Basketball, Ruby, even Cricket… all of these disciplines… they will tell you that venues, facilities and infrastructure is the greatest challenge.
You are unable to grow the game and increase participation since there are not many venues to play and most of venues available around the Country are multi-purpose facilities. They are very few grounds in the Community exclusive to one sport.
So that is a major area that I believe the Government of Guyana through its own infrastructure development programme should be focusing on over the next few years,” posited Forde.
He revealed that Minister of Culture, Youth & Sport Charles Ramson, who is very accessible, had shared with him some of the goals that he has set himself.
“I have every reason to believe that he will be able to achieve his goals and we should see in a matter of months and years, a massive investment in infrastructure for sports in Guyana,” said Forde, who disclosed that he and Minister Ramson had a very close relationship and shared ideas for the development of Football almost daily.
“As it relates to the venue at Leonora I think that if anyone has gone there and inspected that surface they will realise that it is not the best surface for International Football.
From a distance it looks like a really good coat of green but when you get closer it’s really a soft, sandy, clay surface that at times can have quite a few depressions. It’s really not the safest surface for top quality players who you don’t really want to injure.
When our players who play in the professional leagues from overseas come here, the clubs expect that they are going to be playing at a facility that would allow them to play their games and get back to their clubs without injury.
During the CONCACAF tournament, all of our players and even the International teams we played there complained about the venue but usually we (GFF) don’t have an alternative.
A lot of times it’s just CONCACAF trying to work with us to ensure we have a home game. It’s not just the surface but also the dressing room facilities… the overall venue is not where you would want to put a Jamaica team; and we had to play them there.
It’s a challenging environment to host an International game but this is what we have to work with. I would say by far it’s not the most suitable venue for high-quality international football,” the GFF’s top official noted.
“Another point that most of the public don’t know is that whenever the Guyana Golden Jaguars do a home game, the GFF spends between 16 to 20 million dollars for that fixture.
When we play at Leonora, fans, who don’t own their own transportation, have to make a hard decision to come and then figure out how they will get back home because most public transportation shuts down early on that side of the River. So it’s difficult for us to recover that investment,” lamented Forde, who born in the Town of Bartica.
“We take a serious hit because the capacity is only 3,000 spectators and we cannot charge more than $1,500 because the typical football fans will not be able to afford more,” continued Forde, who added that, “…many times the GFF is forced to go into its coffers since getting meaningful sponsorship for international Football is not something easy to do.”
“The use of Government facilities is a policy decision of any Government and we as a sporting discipline in Guyana have to operate within that Policy framework of the Government.
Our only responsibility is to request the use of a venue and if the granting of approval is in the policy framework of the Government then we have to have to utilise that venue in a responsible and respectful way.
If there are conditions for the use of the venue, then we have an obligation to honour those conditions as well,” Forde explained.
Forde, the Owner and Managing Director of Oasis Water and Prudential Industrial Technology, said once completed the Durban Park facility will be Guyana’s International Football venue.
“With all things being equal we were hoping that by the end of the first quarter… middle of the second quarter we would be getting some movement in terms of the Engineering and so on.
But because of the Pandemic, that had to be pushed back to the middle of the year. That will be a big project but I think once we get the project going its will go very fast.
The business model we have for that project cannot be built by FIFA and the GFF alone.We believe we have the right location to invite corporate entities who might have a stake in the design and how that space is commercialised for 24-hour activities. It’s a really good design and once it’s presented to the nation I believe there will interest from investors,” concluded Ford.
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