`We are requiring our head coach to have the same level of qualification as England and Germany without having a 10th of the infrastructure’ –blurb
Golden Jaguars Captain Christopher Nurse during an exclusive interview with Stabroek Sports, discussed the recent appointment of former Jamaica International Michael Johnson as the new head-coach of the Guyana Senior Team.
Below are his answers to several questions. 1. What are your thoughts on the decision of the GFF to appoint former Jamaican International Michael Johnson to the Golden Jaguars Senior Post?
“Firstly I would like to extend my congratulations to Mr. Johnson. As a fellow player/coach and member of the Players Football Association in the UK it’s always good to see opportunities granted to former professionals. He is a good role model and was a good player throughout his career at the top level also. I believe he will be a good man manager, able to share a lot of personal experiences from his playing career and a coach that the players will be able to relate to very easily.
“Guyana is a unique beast when it comes to football, the country has yet to even marginally unlock its full potential. It’s going take time to adjust and understand the culture, the way of living and the way Guyanese people do things. He’s going to need the support of the nation to be successful. So it is important we get behind the head coach and give him all the encouragement and assistance that we can.”
2. Given that the federation is presently saddled with severe debt, do you believe it was a financially wise to appoint Johnson given the cost they could incur for his tenure?
“The federation has done some good things. I think when Claude Bolton was the Technical Director he set the ball rolling as he had a very vivid plan, direction and vision for Guyanese football and when you sat down and spoke with him you could feel the energy, passion and desire that he had for the country’s football to progress. Even though he’s moved on we see a lot of those programmes he initiated continuing to be implemented into the communities.
“I know they have re-positioned themselves so they are able to gain access to FIFA’s funding and possibly that is what has allowed them to be a little bit more extravagant in their search for a new head coach.”
3. What does the appointment of Johnson, a former player, say about the GFF’s outlook on local based coaches and former players?
“I think the federation can be guilty of mixed signals at times. We are talking about repairing fractions and providing opportunity and elevating the level of professional for Guyanese people. The requirement for a PRO license for the head coach position eliminated all Guyanese coaches and they still proceeded in this manner. I believe there is a three-person Technical Review Committee which makes those calls. It would be interesting to see who is on that committee and their qualifications and experience.
“Within Guyana football there are a handful of positions that provide a living salary when it comes to football. Technical Director and Head Coach being two of those. When you outsource those two positions to non-Guyanese people what is left for the coaches who are Guyanese national trying to make a career in the game? If they cannot get experience in Guyana what other country will give them experience?
“The requirements for the national team head coach position eliminated a lot of potential Guyanese coaches by asking for the PRO license qualification. When you factor in that there is no domestic Professional League, which leads to no domestic PRO players or PRO coaches and the current national team only has 3/4 players categorized as full time professionals it doesn’t quite add up.
We are requiring our head coach to have the same level qualification as England and Germany without having a 10th of the same infrastructure. It’s not realistic and fair on the people.
“Spread throughout five leagues all classified as professional in England there are over 2500 professional footballers. Guyana in contrast has no professional league and just four professional footballers. At this stage it does not make sense for Guyana to have the same requirements as advanced footballing nations. It doesn’t align with the country’s social responsibility and vision to set the bar so high that all Guyanese coaches are eliminated from coaching the Guyana National Team based on many Guyanese having the B license and not the [UEFA] PRO.
“I believe the federation is at the beginning of a journey to success. Inclusive in that journey should be the rise and development of Guyanese coaches and Guyanese players, we can run all the courses and qualifications we want without a flourishing league and opportunities for coaches to gain experience years from now we will be in no different position. Qualification is not experience, the certification just gets you an interview. The coaches with the B could have continued to study and complete the journey to the PRO license alongside the rise and development of Guyanese Football in a joint effort.”
“We are world ranked at 182nd out of 211 international teams, that is not a reflection of the talent and team but systemically that tells you that there is work to be done. By embracing the journey and accepting where we are and the work that needs to be done we can get the public, corporate Guyana and the Government to buy into the long term vision of the federation without demanding immediate success. Good things take time to build and you have to stay humble and focused through the building stages. The programmes needs people with a long term commitment and passion to grow and develop football in Guyana.”
4. Do you believe that the GFF has a progressive and structured programme in place that caters to former players who possess the necessary acumen to progress into the realm of management and has the GFF in some aspects, failed their local coaches and former players in their lack of a progressive programme?
“A lot has happened historically in football in Guyana, and many former players have turned away from the sport or away from the federation. We need to bring them back and bring them together for the good of the game. We really need to demonstrate that we are committed to starting fresh and operating in a more forthright manner. That cannot be done by simply erasing the past and replacing former faces with new faces with no recollection of the history of Guyanese football.
“Not all of the history of Guyana Football is negative. Despite the current lack of quality football facilities, development and structure we have seen some magnificent footballers, and achieved a lot of memorable moments.
“The path for Guyanese coaches right now is difficult. Even with your qualifications, if you want this to be your occupation where do you seek employment? It’s all good doing the courses but if there are no paid jobs how do you survive? I remain ever committed to helping to grow and develop the game of football in Guyana. Once again all the best wishes to Mr. Johnson and I hope sometime we can work together for the good of Guyana Football.”