Following the chaotic period that had engulfed Guyana’s football landscape prior to the installation of the Clinton Urling-led Interim Management Committee (IMC) and his subsequent victory at the November 2015 Electoral Congress, Guyana Football Federation (GFF) President Wayne Forde had promised a new approach to the governance of the sport.
In his acceptance speech, Forde, shortly after thanking members of the football fraternity for expressing their confidence and faith in his team to transform the sport’s image, spoke of the years they had listened to the cries for a new style of governance that would be inclusive and impartial and offer the possibility of real development.
“I can tell you with complete confidence that change has come to Guyana’s football. We expect that this is going to be a challenging task, but I am confident in the members that I have here before me and I am also very confident in the support that we will receive from the football fraternity, the media, the Government, the private sector and all stakeholders,” Forde told the gathering of supporters.
He spoke of undertaking the journey as a team, the importance of stakeholders’ input and support as prerequisites for success and to recapture the positive image of the sport.
However, just as his predecessors, who all echoed similar sentiments shortly after taking office, the current president seems to have taken the proverbial path that leads to turmoil and inevitable erosion of confidence among stakeholders.
Just when it appeared as though he was enjoying the support and goodwill of stakeholders for charting a course for long overdue holistic development, the GFF inexplicably made a decision that could easily jeopardise all the hard work done previously.
Even though it may seem innocuous at first glance, it could prove detrimental to the federation and its affiliate that is at the centre of the controversy.
The GFF President, in response to a notification sent by the Magnum brand apprising them of its intent to host a yearend indoor tournament stated via email that permission is only being granted to the GFA to host such an event within the GFA’s jurisdiction.
While the GFF reserves the right to protect the interest of its affiliate (in this instance the GFA) questions have been raised about the legitimacy of the member and whether or not the governing body has stepped outside of its authority.
The blame for this situation must be laid squarely at the feet of the GFF since it allegedly took ‘its own sweet time’ (Three-plus weeks) to relay a response to the Magnum official.
While its primary function is to govern the sport locally the GFF is also known to be in the business of organising tournaments and must be cognizant of the promotional requirements such as time periods for advertising for maximum support and the production of promotional bits and pieces once again to capitalise on reach and sensitisation among fans.
It cannot claim not to have seen the releases that were printed in the dailies and broadcast on the electronic media long before the launch date.
Instead the GFF waited until the launch was conducted to email a response stating that it was not authorizing the staging of the event, citing the green light given to the GFA as the reason.
Now it must be made clear that the teams invited to participate in this event are not affiliated members of the GFF or GFA, but are merely teams made up from communities comprising of players not seeking any national selection.
Rather interestingly, the event that has been green lighted for the GFA by the GFF is a street football tournament. It begs to the question, since when has the GFF and the GFA joined the street football niche?
Is it their respective failures in trying to revive traditional football that has forced their hand, coupled with the financial windfall witnessed by the previous events? Is this the development of the clubs that had been alluded to years prior?
It would appear that the GFF has exceeded its mandate and one could only hope that it’s not the beginning of an attempt to rule with an iron-fist, a characteristic that typified previous administrations that failed to advance Guyana’s football.
Such a move only serves to erode confidence in stakeholders and ultimately serves no good for the game.
The GFF blundered. It did not show good faith and understanding of the intricacies of what promotion entails, but, instead of acknowledging its mistake, moved swiftly to enforce its power by allegedly threatening to inflict lengthy bans on those (referees) who choose to be associated with the tournament.
A quick check will show that such actions are counterproductive to development, there are no winners and just to reiterate what was said earlier, the game suffers.