By Avenash Ramzan
The searing mid-morning heat in West Demerara on Saturday did not deter scores of young boys and girls from engaging in the Guyana Football Federation (GFF) and Ministry of Education (MOE) Grassroot Football Festival at the National Track and Field Centre at Leonora.
Over 70 primary school students, aged 8-11 from Region Three, participated in the session, which was conducted by school teachers with guidance from resource personnel within the football fraternity.
One of the coordinators, Roy McArthur, spoke to News Room Sport. “We had the teachers who had two days of classroom sessions in terms of planning and developing at the grassroot level, and here today they’re just here to impart the little knowledge that they have gained from the two-day session.”
McArthur assured that the session would not be a one-off, but rather plans are in place to ensure continuity. During this first session, the youths were exposed to the fundamentals of the sport in a fun environment.
“We have on paper, on budget, two more programmes for this year. So the next programme will be in July that will be a review and a follow-up of what is being done in March. So we will be continuing in Region Three this kind of programme,” McArthur assured.
McArthur added that he is extremely satisfied with the level of talent and enthusiasm that was displayed by the young students, who came from a total of 24 schools.
“I’m extremely happy to see that we have 70-odd kids being fitted out with uniforms from CONCACAF, and they’re so excited about this programme…you can see them enthusiastic in terms of learning how to dribble, how to control the ball, how to throw a ball, how to pass a ball and these kinds of things, so I’m very much happy,” McArthur stressed.
He added that training the teachers to become football coaches is deliberate, as they are the ones who spend most of the time with the students daily.
“We’re training these teachers. It’s important. It makes no sense you bring a coach from outside to deal with primary school students…it’s important that we deal with the teachers in the schools, because they have day-to-day contact with the students. So that’s one of the ideas we came up with: turn the teachers into coaches, have them deal with the students they’re dealing with every day,” McArthur explained.
Nicholas Fraser of the Ministry of Education said the ministry is constantly looking at ways of getting teachers involved in becoming proficient in applying at least the basics of the sport to their pupils.
“We had collaborated with the Football Federation last year to host a CONCACAF Grassroot programme so the Track and Field Centre approached us and we’ve collaborated again to have the same teachers come back and continue doing more work on the Football Grassroot programme, and we’ve had the same schools targeted again. We hope that this would encourage them to doing the sort of programmes with the students,” Fraser shared.
He added, “There are some parts of Guyana where the teachers are so encouraged it gives you a new life to continue working. So yes, I think we have a special group of teachers here and we need to support them.”
Among the other GFF officials assisting in Saturday’s programme were Technical Development Officer Lyndon France and coach Brian Joseph.