The apparent reluctance by the Guyana Football Federation (GFF) to meet with stakeholders to discuss ways to salvage the image of the sport will continue to be a major problem affecting the sport’s development. In light of the recent shooting incident and the many other unpleasant
episodes that threatened the safety and security of patrons in the past, one would have hoped that the Federation following its investigations of what took place would have quickly organised a Town Hall Meeting with all interested persons to get a better understanding of the issues that continue to plague the sport’s image and development. The GFF, while reserving the right to stage its own internal investigation, must have several reports of past incidents and the rate of frequency that they’ve occurred at its disposal thereby placing it in an excellent position to determine whether the behaviour has reached a proportion of crisis or not. To just embark on an investigation and not pronounce whether the frequency of incidents has become alarming or not seems to be a premature resolution and one could assume that the rushed conclusion might be to appease someone or entity. The GFF cannot deny that in recent times there has been an upsurge in hostility at several competitions so there is an urgent need to understand what has caused the spike in such behaviour. In other words, the findings on what happened should have been supported with a call for a Meeting with all interested parties and stakeholders, an event that could offer a much better guide as to what is causing the unhelpful incidents. To not follow up immediately with such an invitation is simply a clear intent on the Federation’s part to do things independently, a position that will definitely continue to convey perceptions of its unwillingness
to engage outside the General Council. This inflexible posture will always come up short on solutions and ideas needed to propel the sport forward since it is felt that views divergent to the real powers that be are usually not entertained or even deliberated on. No explanation can rightly justify violence at any sporting event, but the GFF must appear to be working for the entire good by offering comprehensive solutions for crises that may arise. The move to inflict a life ban on the alleged perpetrator for such an egregious act is welcome and the entity must be applauded for making such a bold move, but understanding why the upsurge in violence is occurring should also be part of the plan to curb any attempt to commit such deeds in the future. Violence has always been part of the makeup and history of football, it is nothing new, but taken into context, Guyana is too small a country with a consistent outpouring of the same supporters for us not to crush such actions.
A meeting with community leaders, Government Sports representatives, teams’ representatives, players, fans, sponsors, Guyana Police Force, media and any other interested person or group
could go a long way in providing the answers needed to stem the crisis. The ball is in the GFF’s half and how they defend their GOAL will ultimately determine the outcome of the game.
The National Sports Commission’s (NSC) decision to allow the game to be replayed is the right one and they too should be commended for not allowing the incident, despite its seriousness, to affect the usage of the facility by all. The National Gymnasium is perhaps no longer suited to accommodate the large crowds that attend the games and this is no fault of the Promoters.
The shorter form has become more attractive and lucrative for fans and players and this combination has made it grow in popularity so the time might be right for the NSC to consider offering the much bigger Cliff Anderson Sports Hall (CASH) as an alternative for competitions. The GFF’s concern for safety and security should include making a plea to the NSC for the use of the CASH. Securing such an approval could reduce the risk of violence erupting due to the comfort and space that is afforded at the Sports Hall.