Fruta Conquerors Secretary, Daniel Thomas sat down with Stabroek Sport for an exclusive interview, in which he discussed the current issue of inappropriate conduct being alleged against several members of the Guyana Football Federation (GFF) secretariat.
1. Given the recent scandals involving high ranking members of the Football Fraternity for inappropriate behavior. What are your thoughts on these issues?
“Well, personally for me I think that there should be a zero tolerance towards that type of behaviour whether it be towards females, or children in our society, and especially in clubs, and associations where those forms of behaviour should never ever be condoned.”
“I have not been fully briefed on those issues surrounding that at the GFF, however from what has been said by way of the press I do think that the Guyana Football Federation did take the correct action by holding the Commission of Inquiry. With that being done the corrective steps would be taken, and hopefully recommendations and guidelines on how to handle such issues in the future. So let’s await the outcome of the Inquiry before we attempt to cast guilt upon any one.”
2. How should the GFF deal with these matters given the nature of the allegations? Do the allegations if proven accurate, warrant a ban from the sport for the individuals involved?
“I am quite sure that at the end of the Inquiry, the necessary corrective action would be taken by the executive committee of the GFF. Those persons who comprise the Commission are Women whom I have the greatest respect for, and I am sure that they shall be fair and impartial in both their findings and recommendations.”
“Credit should be given to the GFF for at least having the Commission of Inquiry, the easiest route could have been to have the Exco make a decision on the issue, but in all fairness to everyone this is the correct course of action. In the broader scheme of Guyana’s football it does provide us with an opportunity to get such issues and allegations handled correctly and professionally.”
3. How badly has the image of the GFF been tarnished by these episodes given that the individuals accused are high ranking officials of the Secretariat?
“These things do happen, it wouldn’t be the first or it shall not be the last. We have seen the recent allegations being leveled against a prominent high school teacher, so in all situations the process must be one that is fair and just and gives all sides to be heard, and then a decision made, whether it is through the Courts system or a Commission of Inquiry. The important aspect is that persons must have confidence in the system, and be patient on the outcome.”
4. Several weeks prior the club staged important workshop tackling sexual protection and overall conduct of coaches towards children. How important was the launching of that forum in hindsight given the recent scandals plaguing the local fraternity?
“From our club’s perspective I am very happy that I was able to have the foresight and the vision to launch such a programme. For far too long the issues surrounding the allegations of perverted and predatory behaviour being done to players has often times gone under the radar. To me no one has had the fortitude to deal with the issues, but in the developed world and those advanced societies such behaviours are never permitted because there are requisite systems, and protocols in place to deal with such allegations.”
5. Did the GFF assist in any way to aid in the staging of the workshop? Also, has the federation contacted you on possibly staging other forms of a similar nature following its conclusion?
“No the GFF never did assist, I am not sure that they were aware of our workshop. This workshop was the concept of the club. We have the largest pool of junior players in Guyana both male and female, and the time was right for us to put the necessary mechanisms in place to protect these children and at the same time educate all the coaches and the team managers. No I have not been contacted by the GFF to assist on anything of a similar nature, maybe they have their own ideas that they are working on to soon implement.”