By Iva Wharton
The Upper Demerara Football Association (UDFA) will today decide which of the two end-of-year competitions, the Kashif and Shanghai Football Extravaganza and the Banks Beer Cup it will be participating in.
So says president of the UDFA Sharma Solomon.
“The association held a general council meeting last Wednesday and all clubs participated in the meeting. We had an opportunity to solicit from clubs their views on what is going on. Now we need to look at what is going for football in Linden. There is the decommissioning of the Mackenzie Sports Club Ground, which is a burden on the development of the sport,” Solomon said in an exclusive interview with Stabroek Sport just as he was about to enter a meeting with the organisers of the Kashif and Shanghai tournament.
According to Solomon, there are other issues which contributed to the lack of development of the sport, namely sponsorship. Football, he pointed out, is being played on community grounds which are not adequate for the promotion of the sport which he said was responsible for the little or no football played in Region 10.
“The association two months ago would have finished playing its first division league which had to be completed on the Bayroc Community Centre Ground which is not suited for football development and it is also frustrating clubs.”
Those factors he said were taken into consideration when the clubs met to discuss their participation in either of the two tournaments.
“So you have two clubs in the National League that will play football continuously at a very high level around the country while you have about eight clubs that are either not playing football or are not playing football that they are not satisfied with because of the conditions under which they are playing.”
The two clubs that are affiliated to the Guyana Football Federation he said will continue to play football even after the completion of the Kashif and Shanghai tournament. “The other eight clubs are saying to us that because of all these factors and conditions they have no problem playing in the Georgetown league because it is more than that competition that the Georgetown association is offering. It is also what is being suggested to them that they will continuously be participating in tournaments sponsored by Banks DIH through the Georgetown association that will allow for teams from Linden to participate.”
Solomon, however, said that the association will have to follow the law which states that the Georgetown Football Association has been suspended and as such clubs or teams moving in that direction will be sanctioned.
“What is most unfortunate is that entire football fraternity including the GFF made no attempts bring a resolution to this matter. We thought that it was going to be a stand alone, isolated issue but it is now showing it will not only engulf football in Georgetown but it is threatening the integrity of football in Upper Demerara.”
Football, Solomon said, was one of the most significant social tools for social development in the mining town. “If that collapses the tool that will help so many young people is not going to be there to fix many of the wrongs.” According to Solomon, the UDFA will be consulting with all interested parties namely the GFF, GFA, the Kashif and Shanghai Organisation and Banks DIH Limited. Solomon said his main concern is that at the end of all the meetings, the integrity of football remains intact with whatever decision is made by UDFA.
“But we have until Sunday (today) and should we not find something emerging that says Linden Football will not suffer then obviously we will have to take aside. Whether we take the side of remaining with the GFF or the majority of the clubs take the side of the GFA it must not happen to the detriment of football in Region 10.”
The UDFSA like the GFA has had its voting rights suspended by the GFF for close to 10 years now declared Solomon even though he pointed out that the UDFSA in the past had fulfilled all its requirements.
“That is one of the issues that continue to frustrate not only the association but also the clubs in the association to the extent where you have the majority of the clubs thinking along the lines of not taking heed to what is coming out of the GFF because of the treatment from the GFF.”
Solomon claimed that the UDFSA was promised that their voting rights would be restored but that did not happen. “It was said because of the disruption of the court order being served that nothing could have proceeded including granting our voting rights.”
He said he was unsure whether the fault lay with the GFF or the GFA.
When asked why he still feels obligated to the GFF given that UDFA has no voting rights Solomon said:”We take offence to it, but how do we move forward with it. I don’t believe that the Court is the best option. If it is the Congress that has stalled the matter then Congress needs to get on with it so that our voting rights can be restored.”
According to Solomon he has always been advocating for a complete overhaul of the GFF for there to be real development in the sport of football locally. “There is a lot in the GFF that needs to change and if the GFF does not want to change its attitude towards the general management of football we will always end up in the matters that we are at right now.”