Football on the edge of huge transition but infighting has to cease

—says Christopher Nurse

Christopher Nurse 

Former Golden Jaguars Captain Christopher Nurse says football in Guyana is at the crossroads, poised for a huge transition but there needs to be a unified approach in order to take football to the next level.

Nurse made the comments during an excslusive interview with Stabroek Sports where he discussed the development of the sport under the current Guyana Football Federation (GFF) administration.

Below are his answers to several questions. 

What are your thoughts on current landscape of local football?

“I believe that Guyanese football is on the border of a huge transition if we can manage this period of time effectively. Primarily the infighting has to cease and we have to come together as bright minds with a collective purpose to grow and develop football for the next generation and not merely seek to increase our own personal wealth and enhance our C.V’s.”

 “We can do better for these youths and for the next generation. The interest in the sport is there in the country, you only need to look at the attention paid to the Champions’ League final. People in Guyana genuinely love the sport, we need to harness and channel that interest and energy effectively to allow it to benefit the country’ footballers. Unfortunately, at this stage we show more interest in the athletes from other nations than our very own due to lack of regular information and awareness and being able to present a professional product that the people can feel proud to associate themselves with.

“If personal relations can be healed and the leaders in the game come to a resolution to bring everyone together, we can be a much greater footballing nation. Since 2012, players are still owed money from the Mexico fiasco, many of those players now walked away from Guyana football and you no longer see or hear from them because of how they have been treated over time. Football needs reparations, however those guilty of crimes against the sport and its players need to be held accountable. It is impossible to move forward without recognizing, acknowledging and doing the best to amend wrong doings of the past.” 

Are you satisfied with the performance of the GFF executive? Have they do not enough during their tenure to date to inspire the required developmental thrust needed?

“I think the GFF have done some good things, I think they need to remain committed to healing the infractions amongst the various stakeholders. When it comes to making decisions. I believe when making decisions two main criteria need to be taken into consideration:

(1) “What is the long term benefit of the decisions to the sport and the country? Media exposure and hype is not longstanding. I can tell you this because the great Ronaldo was a joint owner of my former club Fort Lauderdale Strikers in 2014, and it was in the media everywhere [in] every country. One year later the team became extinct despite all the hype at the time of the announcement.  It’s not about hype or perception, it has to be based on substance.”

(2) “Does the decision strengthen, empower and provide opportunity for the development and growth to our Guyanese people?”

 “Globally we are seeing more awareness brought to the fact that it is difficult for Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority Coaches to attain top positions of power and influence in the sport as Technical Directors, Head Coaches and Executives in the game of football despite being a large population of the players. We in Guyana have a duty to empower our people. It is nonsensical to expect others to provide opportunity to our people if we do not do this for ourselves

“I make mention of this point because we are still in the search for a National Team head coach and there are some Guyanese coaches out there who have represented the country for decades, and throughout that time endured many hardships that today’s generation will not even be aware of. Now they have progressed and spent thousands of US dollars to attain their coaching licenses and should not be ignored by their own federations.

“I am a firm believer that a national team coach should be an extension of the country and the flag they represent. We are talking about opportunities here, and we have to keep opening those doors of opportunity for Guyanese players and coaches wherever we can. In Guyana we are starved for professional opportunities in football. we do not have a professional league where players let alone coaches can make a living from working in the sport day in day out, so when these positions do arise it is only natural that we should seek to allow our people to have a chance. We are not the USA, England or France with hundreds and hundreds of opportunities for people to coach and be paid as a profession. The opportunities for us are the ones we create.” 

 Have you retired from the international circuit? If yes, has the GFF reached out to you to utilize your skills and experience to aid in the development of the future generations?

It is rare for a player and a young coach to voice these opinions, but they are important issues that are failing to be addressed. I have not retired from playing football as yet, I am working on some injuries and looking at opportunities outside of the field but truth be told, my heart still wants to play at least one more season. If a greater opportunity presents itself and it makes sense to hang the boots up, then I will need to make that decision. At this stage I am always available in any capacity to guide and direct the next generation of Guyana in the principles, disciplines and attitude essential to make it in the game and the many life lessons we can learn from the sport also. 

“The Caribbean region collectively has struggled with discipline, professionalism and consistency, and they are just as critical for success as talent and many times we lose focus of this and glorify flair and flamboyancy over industrious consistency. There are some experiences encountered through the lifespan of a playing career that no textbook can teach. Guyana needs to harness the experiences of its former professionals to help build the programme for the youngsters going forward. Anything less is an injustice to the upcoming youths and just damages our own progression. I have exchanged emails with Mr. Forde in an attempt to move forward over the long standing issues, we will see what progresses in time.”

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