How Colin Klass retained the presidency at the 1999 Guyana Football Association AGM

Dear Editor,

At the request of a well-respected sports columnist during a brief telephone conversation earlier in the week, I agreed to give an account of the 1999 Guyana Football Association AGM, and how Mr Klass retained the presidency. In the process, I wish to clear up any misconception that I voted for the incumbent. Editor, the fact that Mr Klass prevailed by a 9-8 margin over his challenger Joe Harmon for the presidency, was not primarily due to my abstention from voting for the challenger, but rather the surrender of two crucial votes before the election of office bearers. This came about primarily because the latter was wrongly advised by his campaign manager and a committee member, both of whom didn’t display basic commonsense.

It was at that juncture I lost confidence in Mr Harmon’s ability to lead, not even taking into consideration Mr Oliver Hinckson’s insistence on firing a member of the team who was reporting all of Harmon’s strategies to the incumbents. The fact that two votes were given away to Mr Klass on a platter enabled him to strengthen his grip on the coveted prize. During the period under review I was the then Secretary, Georgetown Football League; Mr Maurice John was President and Mr Hinckson was First Vice- President.  Laurie was a member of the Referees Association executive and Technical Director, Women’s Federation, which was headed by a female.

As a consequence could Laurie, lacking the executive authority, have instructed the head of the Women’s Federation to vote for Mr Harmon? Absolutely not! Then why wasn’t my suggestion taken into consideration for Laurie to vote for the Women splitting the vote and removing the other representative? The rest is now history. On the ill-fated day of the meeting during the mid-morning period, I received a phone call informing me that someone (name given) was facilitating a meeting between Klass and Harmon from 17.00 hrs at the Hotel Tower, the AGM’s venue to discuss a few issues, which weren’t elaborated on to me. Instinctively, my response was 15.00 hrs or no meeting, since delaying tactics might have been the order of the day. With a conclusion at 17.50-17.55 hrs, how could Harmon have interacted with his delegates, when the AGM’s commencement was 18.00 hrs?

Editor, until a day like today, 12 years later, I never knew what was discussed. But in arriving at my own conclusion years later, the facilitator of the meeting ended up as a national youth team manager, while the campaign manager continues to have his own way in organizing tournaments, despite numerous contractual violations. In one such instance a 7-a-side commenced at Thirst Park a few years ago and was never completed. Yet still permission was granted the next year for a similar tournament. What can one deduce?  What is the extent of the relationship between the individual and the hierarchy of the GFF, that he was never summoned to a hearing before the Disciplinary Committee, for threatening and abusive language to employees of the GFF.

Finally, the second vote was given away more foolishly, when under ‘Correspondence’ on the agenda, a letter from West Demerara, signed by the President, was presented that indicated an emergency executive meeting had been held the previous night and it had been unanimously decided that Secretary Lyndon Niles would not be representing the interest of the sub-association. Immediately, I rose from my seat with hand extended upwards pointing out that such was contrary to the Standing Orders, since a previous letter circulated to sub-associations said that “all matters pertaining to the A.G.M must reach the Hon. Secretary, at least 14 days in advance.”

Then how come this violation was entertained without me receiving any support? Compounded by the acceptance of an unaudited Financial Report, my final pronouncement was the AGM should be discontinued. Yet again no support! Infuriated, when it came to the ‘Election of Office Bearers’ I simply said I had enough of the nonsense and wouldn’t vote for Mr Harmon, but would vote for Messrs Howard and Archer for the posts of Vice- President and Secretary, respectively. Incidentally, after 12 years, Mr Hinckson told me, “You did the right thing, in not supporting Joe.” In closing I must commend the bold initiative of the GFA executive at a General Council Meeting where the names of candidates were proposed as a challenge to the Klass presidency, and through a voting process the individual with the most votes was elected. This is unlike what occurred 12 years ago, when an individual without any affiliation to a club, sub-association or affiliate was supported for the presidency.

Yours faithfully,
Lester Sealey

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