“Be patient”- Forde asks of football fans
By Avenash Ramzan
“We have lost a lot of time over the past couple of years because of unwarranted political turmoil within the football fraternity, and we simply cannot sit by and only expose ourselves to opponents that we can outdo on the field of play. So you [the fans] have to exercise some patience, you have to understand the bigger picture, and you have to understand what we’re trying to do. But we do understand and appreciate the fact that on the auspicious occasion of your 50th anniversary you would liked to see a much more competitive game, and for that I take full responsibility.”
Those were the words of president of the Guyana Football Federation (GFF) president, Wayne Forde, as he addressed media operatives on Friday morning, speaking specifically on the Golden Jaguars’ 5-1 drubbing at hands of Canada’s Under-23 team on Sunday last at the National Stadium.
Despite the heavy defeat, Forde is adamant playing higher ranked nations is the way to go if Guyana’s football is to take off. He spoke of plans that are in train to have future engagements with two football powerhouses.
“It was important for Guyana to play Canada. As matter of fact, I’m actively in conversation with the United Kingdom team that we want to bring down here in July for a series of games. I’m actively pursuing the U.S. Olympic team. We have to put ourselves against these opponents,” Forde revealed.
He continued, “For Guyana to really register in a very emphatic way to the rest of the Caribbean, which is our domestic opponents, that we are serious about our football, that we want to be competitive, we have to put ourselves against top notch competition. It would have been an easier thing for Guyana to invite one of our opponents from the CFU family to play on the 15th May and beat them 3-0, 7-0 or whatever, but we used the opportunity first of all to give some of our young players an opportunity to play and get some time on the pitch, but also we wanted to put ourselves up against a formidable opponent. That we did.”
Reflecting on the loss to Canada, the GFF head was quick to congratulate the players and the management staff for stitching together their best effort.
“The guys clearly went out there and give their best- they poured their heart into the game- and I want to use this opportunity to also encourage the fans and all of the supporters to be very measured in their criticism, because ultimately this is a rebuilding process for the Guyana Football Federation, and our objectives are very, very clear,” Forde intimated.
He continued, “It’s natural to appreciate that people are hurt, and clearly people were, based on the feedback that we’ve received, and we were hurt ourselves. Nevertheless, we have to recognise the players that we are nurturing for the future will likely encounter these experiences as they come up against opponents that are a few notches above where we are as a nation at this point in time.”
Forde urged the critics to have some consideration for the players, as they are faced with a situation that is deeper than what transpires on the field.
“They come into the situation that we have created for them. The football development environment that existed in Guyana is one that is the collective, deliberate action of the football fraternity. Every club, every association and the Guyana Football Federation have a very specific role to play in the development of the players. So what we see manifested on the field a lot of time is the culmination of these deliberate actions that we have taken over a sustained period of time.”
Like Forde, Head Coach Jamaal Shabazz also took responsibility for the loss, but noted that the game was intended to give crucial exposure to the country’s fringe players.
“As a staff, we chose to the give the opportunity to the players in the national pool who have not been starting in recent times to gain valuable experience and to widen the pool. Of course, we don’t go give up soft goal and make a disappointment for the loyal fans, for the public, for the politicians or for corporate Guyana, but this is sport,” Shabazz outlined.
He added, “And you see that feeling of disappointment that the whole nation felt, must make us realise the ability of sport to touch the heart of the nation. But how can be plant bitter cassava and expect to reap sweet potatoes. I take responsibility for the performance and the selection of giving this opportunity to the players.”
The Golden Jaguars will be in action again next week in the Scotiabank CFU Caribbean Cup in Curacao. The squad for that round is expected to be made public by Monday.