Dec 05, 2023 Sports
Kaieteur Sports – Upper Demerara Football Academy clinched a thrilling 2-1 victory against Berbice Football Academy on Saturday to emerge champions of the Guyana Football Federation-Namilco Thunderbolt Flour Power Under-17 National Academy Playoff.
In another amazing encounter on December 2, Bartica Football Academy defeated East Bank Football Academy with a 3-2 scoreline to secure the third position at the Georgetown Football Club on North Road.
For two months, passionate fans were treated to highly competitive matches featuring Guyana’s finest youth teams. Saturday’s double header was an exhilarating finale to the action-packed GFF 2023 youth season.
The final between Upper Demerara and Berbice produced spectacular football, highlighting the balanced skills and talent of both teams. It was their first clash in a youth football final. Berbice’s Tyrone Delph set the tone with a stunning 18th-minute goal, which his team successfully defended through the first half, much to the delight of their supporters.
But the halftime break and coach’s pep talk infused Upper Demerara with renewed vigour and determination. At the 53rd minute mark, Rodensio Tudor’s goal brought the score level for their team. The match intensified as both sides created numerous scoring opportunities, fueling the excitement among the cheering fans. Ultimately, it was Upper Demerara’s Ryan Arthur who broke the deadlock with an unforgettable 86th-minute goal, securing the coveted winner’s trophy for his team.
Upper Demerara Head Coach Orden Nelson said he is happy with the playoff triumph which is a significant breakthrough for youth football for the region following a dry spell of several years.
“It’s great, excellent, a wonderful feeling,” he shared during a post game interview. “It’s been a while we didn’t win any Under-13, 17 or 15 so it’s a pleasure to take it home to Linden.”
He shared that he told his team to have “faith in themselves and confidence because we come to play football. So just put it together. It’s great.”
A jubilant team Captain Omarion Ramsammy added that, “It feels really great to know that we won the trophy. It was a hard game. Berbice really played hard but we outplayed them. It wasn’t the first time we were down so in the second half we had one mindset, we knew what was the goal, so we went and got it.”
Berbice Football Academy Assistant Coach Travis Moore extended congratulations to the champions and shared his team “executed okay it’s just that we didn’t hold our composure enough, but at the end of the day the better team won. We must say congratulations to Linden and we will go back and we will come back again next year.”
In the tournament’s third place match, Bartica’s Ezekiel Basdeo netted a goal at the 36th minute to finish the first half with a lead.
An altered East Bank side emerged in the second half, equalising the score with a spectacular goal by Matrim Martin in the 75th minute, eliciting enthusiastic cheers from the crowd.
Bartica staged a comeback with another goal from Basdeo at the 83rd minute, followed by Reizer Reid’s goal at 90+3 minutes, clinching the third place in the tournament.
Bartica captain Reon Hall thanked his fellow players and the Head Coach Curtis Joseph for their devotion throughout the tournament. “It was a very great tournament. I want to thank the coach for carrying us through the whole competition. Great work from the team. I’m excited we won. It was difficult in group, but still we fought through and came out victorious.”
The playoff tournament kicked off on October 7, dividing teams into two groups. Group A comprised Georgetown, East Coast, East Bank, the National Under-15 Team and Berbice, while Group B included Upper Demerara, Essequibo, Bartica, and West Demerara.
After the round-robin phase, the top-performing teams from each group earned a place in the championship round.
At the presentation ceremony, Namilco Financial Controller Fitzroy McCloud lauded the dedication and commitment displayed by all participating teams throughout the tournament.
He also praised the champions for overcoming “everything in front of you, every challenge. The discipline to train to prepare and the discipline to execute coaches orders to be able to overcome the challenges on the field and to end up victorious.”
GFF President Wayne Forde emphasised the enduring partnership between Nalmico and GFF and underscored the tournament’s significant impact in nurturing talent for national-level play, with alumni players including Omari Glasglow, Curtez Kellman and Jermaine Garret who are now playing with the Golden Jaguars.
“I want to recognise the National Milling Company who has been an enduring and generous partner of the GFF, investing heavily in youth football. NAMILCO committed 30 million dollars to the GFF U17 Boys programme back in 2016 and we have seen the impact this investment has had on our football with the likes of Omari Glasglow, Curtez Kellman, Jermaine Garret, who have all graduated to the Golden Jaguars, along with scores of players still working towards the national team.”
The top GFF official also congratulated “the youngsters from the UDFA for putting in a stellar performance. It was a tough game for them. It went right down to the wire but kudos to them and the coaches, President Wainwright Bethune, the executive committee and all the supporters.”
Forde added that the Namilco Boys tournament, a cornerstone of GFF’s youth development programme and is scheduled to return in 2024.
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