There is an urgent need for the technical department of the GFF to re-organize, refocus and redirect its operations. Following the performances of the national teams in the not-too-distant past, it should be realized that among the many constraints to our football attaining regional success, is our coaches.
The Under-16 male national team, coached by Gilbert Sampson, to the Dominican Republic was, simply put, embarrassed. This was followed by a Wiggy Dover-coached senior male national team to Guadeloupe, which failed yet again to qualify for the Concacaf Gold Cup. Collie Hercules then led the under -20 male nationals to Suriname – after replacing the ‘Ultimate Warriors’ – and to a resounding defeat. Lastly the under 23s’ attempt to qualify for the Olympic Games next year came to an abrupt but all too familiar end in Cuba losing all their games. Again this team was led by Collie and directed by Mr Banta, compliments of FIFA.
Our women feared no better. The much touted and publicized senior Lady Jags were pulverized in Mexico, under Technical Director of the ladies football programme in Guyana, Canadian Mr Rodrigues, assisted by Wiggy Dover; and recently a senior ladies team travelled to Suriname for the usual exposure, where they were severely mauled by our competitive neighbours, under the tutelage of another Canadian coach, Mr Bacchus assisted by Sheri Abrams.
Mr Andrew Hazel, the goal-keeping coach was selected to prepare all keepers with the exception of the senior men national team, which duties were under taken by Mr Gavin Browne. This is important, because upon casual analysis of the statistics from the above tours, it will be realized that our national teams were out-scored on average four goals to one per game.
What I find amazing is that all of the coaches with the exception of Mr Bacchus prior to leaving these shores, with exuberance and confidence publicly assured football fans, sponsors and the GFF of victory. However, after each tournament there is a familiar set of reasons given by each coach to justify the loss: insufficient time to prepare; players are not at the required standard for national duties; lack of adequate fitness; finishing – the lack thereof; and players not following the game plan.
A good starting point, therefore, is for the technical department of the GFF to address nationally the above listed areas which have become as well known as the national anthem.
I must express utter amazement, bewilderment and disappointment in Collie accepting conditions which he rebelled against. If coaches do not stand on principle then they will accommodate anything and everything, and this is the basic problem. Qualified and experienced coaches such as Sampson, Dover and Hercules appear by their continued acceptance of national duties under the prevailing conditions and from their own utterances, to be willing to sacrifice professionalism for expediency. One may contend that there is nothing inherently or morally wrong with this principle, but then the excuses given in hindsight are both baseless and futile.
The choice of expediency over professionalism appears to have been exhibited at the National Stadium, where Alpha squeezed into the finals of the Concacaf clubs championships, using a de facto national team. It however backfired in the Guiana’s Cup recently held in French Guiana, where the reserve players who were called upon to represent Alpha, came up woefully short – mediocre, said coach Dover, when these same players were denied the opportunity, the exposure and the necessary experience a few weeks earlier. Expe-diency also seems to have been the principle applied by Brian Joseph in Milerock’s successful completion of the CFU 1st round.
All coaches as well as players need exposure for the development of their abilities as well as their careers. It is therefore understandable that coaches, like players, will use each available opportunity presented to accomplish both. The reality however is that the advancement of any coach’s career (unlike a player who can still have a successful career whilst playing for a losing team), depends on the successful performances of their team(s). This is evident from the fact that none of our coaches have been or are being scouted by clubs or countries as a direct result of our regional and international performances.
The technical development officer, Mr Lyndon France, coach of Buxton United, has admirably qualified himself in almost all aspects of the game. He is the holder of a FA ‘B’ licence. He is a qualified Fifa coach and goalkeeper instructor and has attended certificate courses in planning, management, nutrition, physiology and physical training. He is also an avid researcher who is proficient in behavioural psychology, injury prevention and recovery, human biomechanics and modern scientific trends in world football. With this resumé, this one man technical department needs to share his acquired knowledge at a national level. Infor-mation could be disseminated to all coaches via email, person to person, in meetings or coaching seminars.
Vertical ascendancy in any aspect of human endeavour can only be accomplished with knowledge as its foundation. With the availability of information/ materials, to all coaches at all levels nationwide, the process of moving Guyana’s football to the regional level would have begun. It goes without saying that all coaches should be given the opportunity to be involved in coaches’ exchange programmes with clubs or national associations of sister Caribbean countries.
The above initiatives coupled with a system based on merit as the main criterion for the national selection of coaches (who should be adequately compensated for their successes or be duly demoted or fired for failure), would result in coaches being more responsible, accountable, focused, professional, motivated and, hopefully, successful.
There are many initiatives a financially strapped organization can pursue, if its focus is on the achievement of specific objectives and ultimately the honourable discharge of its responsibilities. Lest I am accused of having an axe to grind, being jealous or envious, let it be known that I have the utmost respect for the knowledge, experience and successes of all our qualified coaches whom I consider associates and are all my contemporaries.
In conclusion, I insist that all coaches discern the difference between service and servitude.
Bilal Eusi Nantambu