“Sad State of Affairs”- Part I

The idiom, ‘a sad state of affairs’, according to the online website, Free Dictionary, refers to “a particularly unfortunate, unpleasant, and/or upsetting situation or set of circumstances”.

It’s the perfect description for the current state of football in our country.  For months, the sport has wallowed in the doldrums through no fault of its own, but simply due to the ineptitude of its handlers and administrators.

Association Football, which like most major sports in forward thinking nations is a billion dollar industry, has been a multi-million dollar catastrophe in our beautiful land.

From a business perspective, the current administration has dropped the ball, relegating the sport further into the realm of embarrassment, an uncharted territory which has never been witnessed by our footballing fandom.

The aforementioned describes how dismal the Guyana Football Federation’s (GFF) governance of football has been, especially from the business side, during their two and half year reign.

Dormancy is an understatement to describe the discipline’s activity level. Private promoters have been the saving grace in the current climate, as they continue to mask the ineptitude of the federation.

But it’s not only the GFF’s inability to foster the sport that has raised questions about their administrative acumen, more worryingly the current executive has allowed a poor environment.

Clandestine operations and politicking have highlighted their tenure, with many decisions taking by the ‘Powers That Be’ raising queries of partisanship and highhandedness.

The GFF has refused to disclose information on several pertinent matters, despite holding public office and consistently soliciting corporate and governmental support at every opportunity.

This is an administration that knew about the inappropriate conduct of officials towards female referees for more than a year and remained silent on the matter until it was raised in the press, resulting in a yet to be completed COI.

This is an administration which unilaterally suspended experienced referees John Callender and Wayne Griffith from duty, without a constitutional hearing, due to their association with a Street Football Tournament, a format which doesn’t fall under their purview, but is a staple of the community for fostering social cohesion.

Likewise, the federation suspended several Western Tigers players from the ‘Elite League’ because of their participation in a Street Football event, despite none of the players being contracted to the GFF or the club.

However, the federation carried Phillip Carrington, head-coach of Elite League participant, Cougars FC as a developmental coach on the current Golden Jaguars Brazilian tour, despite Carrington being the coordinator of Street Football Tournaments in the Berbice Zone for over three years.

Similarly, Seon Bristol, who is also a member of the GFF Technical Department, as the School Developmental Officer, is a member of the coordination crew for the Berbice Zone, along with Carrington.

These individuals were not suspended by the GFF for their direct affiliation with Street Football competitions, but instead, it appears they were rewarded. I guess suspensions don’t always apply to officials.

This is the height of hypocrisy and players need to open their eyes. The public and the aggrieved players have been waiting patiently for the GFF’s response on this particular matter.

Rather embarrassingly, the administration still owes the Beach Football players thousands of dollars for their participation in the CONCACAF Qualifiers in February 2017, but can find the money to carry a 17 member Management Team, the largest in Guyana’s history to Brazil. Sadly, Lindener Tony Gilbert, a member of the beach football squad has passed away and never received his outstanding arrears.

When asked what criteria was utilized to select the individuals for the Georgetown Football Association (GFA) Interim Management Committee, the president refused to answer. So, the GFF can appoint an IMC for an important Sub-Association and not disclose on what basis these people were selected?

This is an administration that has failed Women’s football at every step of the way. Defenders will argue that the federation has participated in several continental tournaments at the youth levels.

However, if overseas matches and participation in competitions equate to development, then why play football locally?

We have already seen the trend with the Senior Women’s team start to permeate the junior ranks. Nine of the 17 member Under-15 Squad which participated in the recent CONCACAF tournament were either overseas born or based players.

That is development for you. We have a bright future boasted the federation in an official release, following the conclusion of the CONCACAF event.

The sad reality is that year after year Guyana is becoming a foreign-minded entity which discards its culture in favour of others. This trend is fast becoming synonymous with our beloved football, as foreign players are shoehorned into the national setup and billed as Guyanese, because there is no developmental structure in place to foster our homegrown players, thus relegating them to the practice roster.

But this is development and a by-product of the Academy Training Centres, which, by the way, are not geared towards females.

IMCs of the GFF

The installation of the GFA IMC has raised many questions in the shrinking football circle. Why did the GFF wait nine months to take such an action?

Will a similar fate befall the Upper Demerara Football Association? How about the Referees Council, an entity that has twice failed to field the constitutional quorum to stage its annual elections?

Will that ‘August Institution’ be converted into an IMC or will further chances be afforded to the council which is reportedly close to the current administration. Its current leader is an executive member of the GFF.

Maybe an election will be held similar to the Women’s and Berbice Football Association’s (BFA), who were allowed to stage their electoral congresses despite the lack of adequate public notices.

The ‘winners’ are considered supporters of the current administration, with the head of the BFA also an executive member of the Forde Administration.

One can only guess that there is no conflict of interest in the eyes of the sitting executive, despite the GFF President having relinquished his position as Fruta Conquerors Chief, following his success at the federation’s 2016 election.

More importantly, the revival tournament cannot save the fortunes of the GFA. The sad state of affairs was allowed to fester by the federation before the implementation of the always controversial IMC.

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