Fruta Conquerors FC recently celebrated its 35th anniversary, and Club Secretary, Daniel Thomas sat down with Stabroek News for an exclusive interview, in which he provided an insight to the frustrations of players and management at the club level.
- What are your thoughts on the current status of football locally?
“Well, first I would like to acknowledge that Fruta Conquerors FC did celebrate its 35th year of existence this year, and we have a proud history as a club having won many senior and junior competitions over the years.
Space may not permit but for all those persons who would have helped in the early years and continue to help I say a big thank you. To persons like Coach Whyte, Marlan Cole, Wayne Forde, Sheldon Braithwaite, and all of the past players.
My thoughts on the current status of football locally are, that I view it from the perspective of the ‘chain only being as strong as its weakest link’. That being said, the Guyana Football Federation [GFF] may be trying its utmost best in ensuring that it rolls out its programs and implement its vision for the development of the sport, but the overall factor for me, still has to be on how well run and managed is soccer, at the association and club levels.
What we have observed is that some associations are doing an absolutely fabulous job, well others seemed to be stuck in a time capsule, unable to get anything done and this should not be, because in the end that can also affect the national programs of the Federation.
I would also like to see more structure to the local football being implemented, and what I mean by that is, for within each association for a specific time period, we should all be able to witness Under-11, Under-13, Under-15, Under-17 leagues or matches being organized. This is highly critical to the development of all of our youth players.
However, this can only happen if venues become available, and for me, that too should not be much of a challenge, as we already have a number of grounds in existence, example Camptown, Parade ground, National Service ground, but at the moment, what we have are venues that are in dire need of some amount of work to be done on their surfaces.
These are projects that can be done with the least amount of difficulties, as most of the resources are available to commence rehabilitation – sand, mud, machinery, and what can be built are simple, team benches and goal posts.
What is lacking seems to be the will and a plan. The bigger picture is, the more grounds that you have available, the more matches that can be played simultaneously, and at the moment that cannot happen because of the dependence on just a few venues.”
- How is the current situation affecting the development of the club?
“Fruta Conquerors FC, as a club has not stood idly by twiddling its thumbs when no youth soccer was being played within the Georgetown Football Association. We took the initiative to host several youth competitions. The last one which was successfully held was the Guyana Beverage sponsored Under-19 competition.
We have one of the largest catchment of youth players, and we have to deal with their levels of disappointment and frustration when for a whole year they turn up to train and then cannot compete in one structured competition. This has been permitted to happen for way too long, and no one seems capable of correcting this situation.
Still, we have persevered in spite of all of this, because the bigger picture is, the young person wants to learn to play the game, and as such, the responsibility is ours to provide that enabling environment in which that child, either boy or girl, can come to the club and be coached by a responsible adult in a safe and friendly environment.”
- The GFF is currently before the courts following the granting of an injunction in favour of Alpha United and Slingerz. Is this matter, the main, and or, only reason for the prize monies not being paid to the club to date?
“I am not quite sure, I think there may also be an issue of the funding being withheld due to the ongoing FIFA investigations. Something was mentioned at the last Congress. So the work of the Federation is being drastically affected by the lack of timely funding. Coupled with that fact too, there is much more stringent measures and accountability in place, before funds can be released in the future.
However, as a club we would like to go one record to state how very disappointed we are by the actions of the two clubs who applied for the injunction to stop the GFF from paying out prize monies which has been earned by the players of the respective clubs. There cannot be any justification for such action, because all in all, it is the players who continue to suffer greatly when one thinks of it.
The action to withdraw from the league was of their own [making], the records would show that. So how can you now file an injunction against the prize money, when it was never your intention in the first place, to play for it? We, as a club, are extremely disappointed with the progress of the matter being held up in the courts, as we feel that the two clubs do not have any merit to their actions, but time shall tell. The only problem is when?”
- Has the club received the players’ match day stipends as yet ? If not, has the GFF communicated when this will occur?
“Sadly, I must admit that the only monies that have been paid out to date by the GFF have been the match day stipends for the first half of Elite Season Two. This situation is totally unacceptable and reprehensible, and has surely placed a damper on the progress of the league. At the moment no one knows for sure when this situation shall end, or what the other options available are.”
- What measures or steps will the club take to alleviate this situation? Will the club participate in futuretournaments sanctioned by the GFF if they are not paid the funds owed?
“We are obligated to play in all competitions mandated by the GFF, however this current situation does leave much to be desired, it places a whole new and different perspective on the operations of the league, and the governance and structure of the pro league.
Financially, there isn’t much that we can do as a club, at the moment, but the situation did affect our ability to attract new players for this season. So what do we do? Sue the GFF for the potential loss of income?
The situation is not healthy, and with every day that goes by, it brings with it added burdens, and the loss of hope for anything positive being done at club level for soccer in Guyana. The million dollar question that has to be answered soon by the GFF is, shall there be a Season Three of the SEL, and what guarantees can they give to all and sundry that it shall be run smoothly and void of any controversies?”