Football sponsorship has changed

Dear Editor,

At this juncture I must extend my heartiest congratulations to the GFF coaching staff and management team, in their 1-1 draw against traditional regional powerhouse host Trinidad & Tobago.

Meanwhile is the late Kenneth De Abreu, turning in his grave at the new dimension his former employer Banks DIH, is now introducing as it relates to football sponsorship and development? Editor, when I first entered the administrative realm of football with the then Georgetown Football League in 1982, it wasn’t in the mainstream of the (sub) association’s executive, but rather on the fringes as a divisional representative. Each division from 1-4 was chaired by the President and three Vice-Presidents respectively, with divisions 2-4 having their own Divisional Secretary and Representative. Demico House, of which the late De Abreu was the Managing Director, was instrumental in providing sponsorship for at least 3 competitions: Demico House Division 1 League, Demico House under-16 Challenge Cup KO, Demico House Pee-Wee KO (De Abreu’s pet), and under-16 Inter Schools KO Coca Cola.

Additionally, Demico House sponsored the club leadership seminars 1 & 2. Later on the Campsite Round Robin/KO was clinched during the stewardship of former GFL President, Winston Callender, a Banks DIH employee at the time. The late Uncle Ken, as De Abreu was fondly called, was also a former member of the then National Sports Development Council. De Abreu’s commitment to football development was instrumental in the conceptualisation of the Pee-Wee under-11 competition, a one day KO. His vision was to place a squad in training at the conclusion, and biannually have them participate at the under-16 level, in the Robbies’ International Tournament in Canada. Though it never fully materialised under the Demico House banner, representation nevertheless was made at the under-19 level under the auspices of the then Guyana Football Association on more than one occasion. Kudos however must be accorded to the late Uncle Ken, for his vision in relation to Pee-Wee football, since the first Guyanese to play in the MLS, was once an MVP in the competition ‒ Gregory ‘Jackie Chan’ Richardson.

While the sponsorship for various sports disciplines locally by Banks DIH is unrivalled by any other sponsor over a protracted period, as it stands now the beverage giant seemingly focuses more on enhanced sales of a specific product at an event, against initial development and sustainability. Whereas 5-a-side is not and can never be equated with futsal, suffice it to say that the end of the year KO tournaments yet again offer no scope for meaningful development. If you lose, you are out, but the bar sales will continue, along with the surplus of monies available from remittances, bonuses and back-pay. Apart from the now defunct Kashif & Shangai KO, overseas coaches from Trinidad & Tobago, no longer come scouting for local players in pursuit of contracts.

The league format of play over two rounds is more conducive to development, whereby coaches over a protracted period of time can properly organise their training schedule to suit an upcoming opponent’s style of play. If there is a drawn encounter or a loss in the first round, a team can still redeem itself in the second round. Many an association under the Guyana Football Federation (GFF) umbrella has been struggling to acquire sponsorship for their domestic activity encompassing under-11, seniors ‒ a total of 9 competitions: Under-11,-13,-15,-17,-19,-21, Division 2 and Division 1 and a Knockout.

But the afore-mentioned is just for male players. At a minimum add 4 for females, amounting to 13. Can at least 10 sponsors be convinced to sponsor the respective competitions? Interestingly, what is the government’s policy towards companies providing sponsorship by way of tax write-offs etc? At this juncture I have to agree with the National Rugby Coach, Laurie Adonis, who stated: “Annually, National Associations need around $40-50 million upon the submission of specific documentation, for overseas travel ahead of national representation”. Of course the cost of the airfare, accommodation, encampment, transportation, meals and stipends, etc are all part of the expenditure.

As a consequence I fail to accept that the National Sports Commission could not have assisted the AAG financially, ahead of the national representation at this year’s Junior Carifta Games, but could still be an initial sponsor for a meaningless 5-a-side football competition, which has absolutely nothing to do with that specific area of the sport’s development. By the way, why is the GFF continuing to remain silent on this issue, what are they afraid of? Speaking of the GFF, this august body is definitely not sponsorship friendly in that it has failed to attract meaningful sponsorship for its 2017-18 Elite League. Is football, a marketable product, being marketed properly? Definitely not, since from the competition’s inception profitability was never secured, and that was with eight teams.

Yours faithfully,

Lester Sealey

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