Overseas-based footballers still needed to propel Guyana

Dear Editor,

Our nation will participate in this year’s Gold Cup as a debutant, following a 2-1 victory over Belize on 23.03.19 at the Leonora Track & Field facility.

The recruitment of overseas-born players of Guyanese parentage or grand-parentage is a process which has been ongoing for well over two decades, but not in the significant numbers that are prevalent today. As a consequence, the level of the GFF’s Elite League, in terms of its standard, leaves much to be desired to the extent that “Current champions Fruta Conquerors, don’t have a significant presence of player(s), if any at all, as starters in the national team!” Who’s to blame? The GFF.

In all due fairness, the Technical Director ought not to be blamed, since his vision for development is not a “stop gap solution”, but would take at least a minimum of eight years, encompassing well-structured and efficiently run academies, with adequate resource personnel. It would begin from the embryonic stage of under-11, with the harnessing and nurturing of unearthed talent, and would move onto under-13, U-15, U-17, U-19 and Under-21.

Editor, then and only then would local players be able to vie for senior national team selection, as their technical inferiority would be enhanced significantly from day one of academy training, albeit eradicating a “poor first touch”.

Suffice it to say, that in the elite leagues, it’s still an ongoing problem, much less domestically within associations. So when an overseas born who is playing third/fourth division in Europe or North America is selected, it shouldn’t be a problem due to the fact that technically, they are more superior than the local based players! By the way, can an “old dog, be taught new tricks”? “The tree must be bent, while it’s young”. By relative comparison, when former national cricket captain and former West Indies senior cricket coach, Roger Harper was publicly criticized for technical flaws, in some of the frontline batsmen’s stroke play, Harper quite rightfully responded by saying, “At the senior representation level, it’s unheard of attempting to teach a batsman how to play a proper forward defensive stroke”— or words to that effect.

As a consequence, must the Technical Director, or the senior national coach, teach a 25-year-old how to take/trap a ball cleanly, in pursuit of senior national selection/representation?

Finally, in returning to the subject matter of whether additional overseas born players should be recruited for Gold Cup participation, if it was my call at this given moment, surely, I’d be supportive, since it would provide an extremely good showing as a debutant, against countries that all have previous Gold Cup appearances. So, a good showing by Guyana would lead to quality opponents in international friendlies, hence, paving the way for exposure and contracts, while supplementing the coffers of the GFF by way of TV rights, among others. 

Only a few weeks ago, I was privy to view Brazil and Panama playing to a 1-1 draw, in an international friendly. So in actuality and factually, the senior national lineup cannot have players with deficiencies, though it’s sad that the national League club champions, Fruta Conquerors, hadn’t any players in the squad.

Meanwhile, to the best of my knowledge, I am aware that Mr Faizal Khan holds the responsibility of Overseas Recruitment Official/Officer. However, is his role definitive, to the extent that within a specific time frame, upon identifying a player for possible recruitment, and apart from providing the player’s bio -graphics and resume, is an accompanying video clip sent along highlighting the player(s) in training and in a competitive match for assessment? Is Khan’s role in recruitment subject to the review of the national coach /technical staff? If not, then the individual truly deserves the relevant accolade for playing a meaningful part in the country’s qualification for the Gold Cup.

Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago had previously utilised overseas-born players to aid their qualification for the World Cup finals. And so too did regional powerhouse U.S.A, in 2014. With the aforementioned countries way ahead of Guyana as it relates to international exposure, domestic activities and infrastructure, then it would be foolish for our country to fool itself that local based players have the necessary tools to propel us forward. Maybe, what is needed at this crucial juncture is for “the Technical Director, to draft/craft a training programme specifically for local clubs, compatible to national team(s) training. Whereas, all clubs thereafter must at least twice a week, implement the Federation’s training policy into their schedule. So, whenever a player is called to the national grid, he/she knows what the training programme is like. Instead of groping to adjust, which would be time consuming. Albeit, “failing to prepare, is preparing to fail”.

In this modern world of scientific technology, a Brazilian professional plying his trade in China, Germany or Russia, upon receiving selection for a national squad, can quickly readjust to the “Samba” style of play. What is the GFF waiting for?

Yours faithfully,

Lester Sealey

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