The National Mystery

Amid the excitement of securing an historic victory against El Salvador at the recently concluded CONCACAF U20 Football Championship, the first ever against Central American opposition at any level, we must be reminded that history was also created against us in the month of November.

 We fell on the wrong side of history in this regard, as lowly Cayman Islands and traditional whipping boys French Guiana, recorded maiden wins at the U20 and senior levels respectively.

In particular, the Cayman Islands defeat was unexpected and embarrassing, as the British Territory has a population of less than 70,000. The aforementioned defeats have raised questions about the state of the respective national programmes.

 In Guyana, the word development has become the justification for mediocrity and overall failure. How can a World Cup qualifier, which is effectively what the U20 tournament was, be considered a developmental competition?    Are we simply relegated to being participants and tourists in the corridors of power because criticism is a byproduct of expectations? Perhaps it’s easy to sweep it under the rug utilizing the guise of development.

 In every tournament, positives will be realized and achieved however small they may be. However, failure is a universal currency, and as such, there are no excuses for finishing in the cellar position with a record of 1-3, especially with Cayman Islands featuring in the aforementioned pool during the CONCACAF u20 event.

 This failure has placed the spotlight squarely on the Technical Director Ian Greenwood, with many pundits, former players and more importantly fans, questioning his ability and general acumen, as the individual tasked with charting Guyana’s footballing aspirations and endeavours.    The defeats to the Cayman Islands and French Guiana, as well as the embarrassing losses to sixth division teams in Brazil are some of the major highlights of his tenure.

 Let’s not forget, the embarrassment of the Lady Jaguars being dumped out of the group stage at home in the CONCACAF Women’s Championship, which of course is another first.

 As a nation, are we getting the benefit for the proverbial dollar? For all of Guyana’s failures, the technical director has remained devoid of scrutiny.

Is there an evaluation process or period and a committee that examines his production and programmes or is he simply given free rein to operate? As always they are many questions but hardly any answers from the Wayne Forde-led administration.

 After-all, the GFF has refused to divulge contractual details of the current technical director, which gives rise to suspicion.

 Given the GFF’s aspirations and bold claims of targeting World Cup Qualification for 2026, why wasn’t Greenwood present at the U20 tournament for analytical and evaluation purposes?

 Common sense would dictate that the core of this squad will be in their ‘footballing prime’ for the 2026 Qualifiers, as such should form the nucleus of the team.

 What is imperative is how the federation will provide the platform to build on the positives of the event? Remember, no tournaments were played at this age group for more than one year prior to the event to serve as match practice and scouting for the technical staff.

 Once again, criticism must be aimed at the Technical Director. His methods and approach have failed to result in any form of success, while his programmes are nothing more than a rehashed version of his predecessor Claude Bolton.    Some will point to the six weeks of preparation as enough time to formulate a competitive unit. That might be true, but what is the point of practising without your foreign-based players and in conditions totally alien to the time of the matches.

 The team was not prepared for the harsh heat of Florida. Two of the matches were held at 10:00am, with the third staged at 12:45pm. The final match occurred at 8:00pm. The Guyana team trained from 4:00pm. Just brilliant and it showed in the results!

 The selection process for national honours in beautiful Guyana, have often ignited ridicule from various sections of its dissenting populace.

 The aforementioned discord often times, emanates from various geographical locales due to their lack of representation. For many, the donning of the flag [national team representation] is seen as a source of pride, not only for individuals but communities and races.     However, Guyana is often saddled with political undercurrents that seem to influence selection. Some may call it bureaucracy but too often sporting merit takes a backseat in our politically driven sports world.

 I guess we are simply satisfied with scouring the globe for persons who have a pinch of Guyanese roots and fast track them into the programmes.

How else can you explain why none of the foreign-born players were analyzed during training sessions for selection to the U20 team? They simply arrived and were guaranteed a berth on the roster.

 Interestingly, who were the individuals responsible for identifying and selecting the foreign-born players for the team?

 Criticism must also fall at the feet of head-coach Wayne Dover and his management staff, who allowed the federation to influence the roster selection by not staging trials for the overseas born contingent.

 After all, the foreign players failed for the majority of the campaign to justify their selection and it raises the question, should overseas born players be utilized for youth tournaments. In the words of Romain Virgo, “He who feels it knows it.”

 The selection policy also applies to the coaching staff. Presently it seems we are cultivating a player-coach methodology as several current Golden Jaguar internationals have been handed the reins of the national programme.

Vurlon Mills, Gregory Richardson and Anthony Belfield, individuals who still currently ply their trade at the National and Elite League levels, were assigned as coaches for the concluded CONCACAF U20 Championship in Florida, USA.

Mills was designated as the In-Possession Coach, while Richardson and Benfield were labelled the Striker and Out-of-Possession Coaches respectively.

However, this raises many questions. Were the trio qualified enough to occupy their national team positions? Why were other coaches, especially individuals operating at the Elite League level and personnel with years of experience overlooked for the positions?

 Who were the individuals responsible for selecting the management squad? Did the head-coach Dover have input in the selection process or was the management team simply entrusted onto him? Only in beautiful Guyana!

 

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