The highly touted arrival of the FIFA World Cup for a historical first time in many Caribbean countries, with our own native land Guyana included, occurred on Wednesday, October 30, 2013 at the CJ – International Airport, Timehri, around 09:00hrs. Thereafter journeying to Thirst Park, the sprawling complex of Banks DIH Limited, the local franchise holders of Coca-Cola, the official sponsor of the World Cup’s 267 days of travel, covering 89 countries. Editor, on a scale of 1-10, I would grade the GFF executive with -1 for its failure in meaningfully representing the nation’s interest, as an affiliate of FIFA, CONCACAF & CFU. Moreover, when it’s taken into serious consideration that nationalistic values were overshadowed by “ineptitude, unprofessionalism and a lack of vision” in showcasing Guyana and by extension the GFF as a parent body!
Were the relevant sub-committees activated to avoid the ‘F’ grade? How many meetings internally were held, before and after consultations with the Coca-Cola franchise holder? Suffice, it to say that in “giving Jack his jacket” former GFF President, Colin Klass would have never allowed such an auspicious occasion by Guyanese standards to be a Coca-Cola thing! Our nation’s World Cup achievements in reaching the third round would have entailed local players attired in national uniform accompanied by the managerial and coaching staff, along with 2-3 representatives of each World Cup team Guyana fielded. And definitely not foregoing coaches, managers and physical trainers. How absurd was it for Charles “Lily” Pollard, a former national player with 17 years of national representation and a member of the Golden Jaguars that was eliminated at the third round, in the 2014 World Cup Qualifiers not receiving an official invitation! Similarly the previous GFF executive, inclusive of Klass; President, Guyana Olympic Association; Presidents and Secretaries, of Associations and Affiliates of the GFF! In addition to sponsors of the Golden Jaguars and representatives of the transportation and hotel sectors, along with media personnel. In compiling such a list of invitees I could not have envisaged it surpassing 80 persons, if so much.
Finally, with the Christopher Matthias-led executive of the Guyana Football Federation, clearly displaying a lack of vision, the GFF and by extension the nation of Guyana, would be viewed internationally as coordinating the worst reception and showcasing of the FIFA World Cup, within CFU! A GFF/Coca-Cola Programme of activities should have included a Corp of Drums upon the officials deplaning; displays of the FIFA and GFF flags; a rendition of the FIFA Anthem by the M.C.Y & S National Steel Orchestra; a Dance segment by the National School of Dance and a Majorette display. All of which should have been done at specific intervals, preferably at the National Stadium, Providence, with a seating capacity of 15,000, instead of the extremely small Thirst Park Ground. For argument’s sake about the cost factor in renting the stadium, a nominal entrance fee could have been charged, with a complimentary Coca-Cola as a promotional interest, or the government could have asked through the relevant Ministry, to waive the cost of rental. It’s still beyond my imagination that the GFF President, instead of fine-tuning arrangements for the trophy’s arrival, the evening before was more interested in his “personal agenda” of campaigning within clubs on the West Demerara, ahead of its AGM. This was to ensure that the individuals, who voted for him at the GFF’s AGM, be elected as the President, instead of a GFF Vice President, who by far have more clout nationally. Yes indeed! A new dispensation in the development of the sport.
How hypocritical that no association has a structured youth development plan in place, but yet still their involvement is essential! By the way were any pennants with the GFF logo presented to: the accompanying delegation of the World Cup; Chairman, Banks DIH Ltd; PRO, local Marketing Manager Coca- Cola, His Excellency, President, Donald Ramotar and the Hon. Minister, of Sports?