In the wake of the Golden Jaguars’ success story this year, the country’s football problems continue to morph with every passing day, and United States-based administrator Garth Nelson, feels it’s time to take the bull by the horns to curb a likely crisis.
The national team’s historic World Cup Qualifying series victory over Trinidad and Tobago which catapulted the country into the CONCACAF semi-finals for the first time, has done little to rid the nation of the deepening discord between the Guyana Football Federation (GFF) and its main sub association in Georgetown, nor awakened the Upper Demerara sub association from is slumber of gross inactivity.
And no urgency is seemingly being applied to retain the services of Jaguars coach Jamal Shabazz, whose exploits in masterminding the shock World Cup elimination of his native Trinidad and Tobago, resulted in a prompt recall from a loan agreement.
Add the massive financing needed for the continuation of the Jaguars’ ‘Road to Brazil’ journey and growing disenchantment by some political activists with the alleged government links of the Kashif and Shanghai organization – the engine behind football’s wide popularity in Guyana, and you surely would not envy the position of the GFF’s decision makers. And not to mention the fallout from world ruling body’s ( FIFA)’s suspension of two leading GFF officials.
Nelson, a passionate aficionado of Guyana’s football, feels constant negotiations are the key to ending the standoff between the national body and the Georgetown Football Association (GFA) that has resulted in morbid stagnation of the sport in the country’s largest sub association.
The GFA has been denied voting rights by the GFF for an entire four-year cycle and when they were refused participation at the latter’s annual general meeting, this year, the association promptly filed an injunction in the court which curtailed the election of officials .
A follow-up injunction over the appointment of one GFF official was also instituted.
In the interim, competition in Georgetown ground to a standstill, especially in the last two years and when the GFA finally got the action underway in the city recently, participating teams were banned by the GFF from the prestigious Kashif and Shanghai tournament.
Nelson, the GFF’s international coordinator and president of the Guyana Beach Football Association, said both parties should make the development of the sport their first priority and leave personal differences behind.
He feels the animosity is growing every day, mainly due to the two injunctions filed by the GFA. “ You get the impression the GFA officials are more interested in combat and have this ‘ us or nothing’ approach”. Nelson pointed out. “ But I think the GFA is now fully equipped to be recognized as a functioning sub association, by the GFF. They have a constitution and an executive in place and the onus is now on the GFF to persuade them to drop the injunctions so that everyone can get on with the business of football.”
According to Nelson “some people” within the GFF undermined FIFA suspended ex president Colin Klass, and now have a chance to do better but are failing.
“ Why is it they can’t resolve the problems with Georgetown, why is it they can’t get the Linden (Upper Demerara sub association ) officials cracking, why is it we have not seen any big sponsorship coming in,” Nelson lamented.
He posits that all non- functioning affiliates like the Upper Demerara sub association , should be taken into “administration” and run by the GFF itself. “ No sub association should have any excuse for not staging at least 10 matches a year”, Nelson argued.
If he was GFF president Nelson said he would capitalize on the Jaguars’ rising world ranking and organize international friendlies against countries in and out of Guyana to earn much needed money.
“ Almost every other country does it to build their finances and with the Jaguars placing Guyana on the world map, valuable time is being wasted,” the former Linden resident stated.
He said being part of the group which organised Guyana ‘s first friendly game in the United States against Guatemala in Atlanta last year, was nothing insurmountable.
“ Right now this team (Golden Jaguars) could be very valuable to the GFF, “ Nelson said explaining that the top players can be used to initiate sponsorship deals with companies around the world.” All those trips the President (former Head of State Bharrat Jagdeo) made to those rich oil countries, could’ve benefitted the Jags if the right approaches were made to have them play there and broker deals”.
Nelson also laments the laid back approach being taken to securing Shabazz back for the Jaguars from the Trinidad and Tobago federation where he is a full time employee. “This man is a gem for the team, he knows how to handle the pros and fitted them in well with the local players, and by now we should’ve had word on his position”
He also feels plans should’ve been well advanced for the Jaguars’ tough assignment next year.
“ June is (CONCACAF semis) is just around the corner and this team (Jaguars) needs at least three international games to aid preparation for Mexico, Costa Rica and El Salvador, but we don’t even know who will be the coach, much less to begin negotiations for these games,”