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GFF, corporate partners pamper champion U-15 footballers

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By Avenash Ramzan

The National Under-15 footballers were the centre of attention on Wednesday morning when the Guyana Football Federation (GFF) hosted an Appreciation Ceremony in honour of the team’s success in the SOULIGA Cup tournament in St. Martin at the weekend. The Federation and its corporate partners came together to pamper the players, who created history by becoming to first youth football team from Guyana to win a tournament.

The Joshua Brathwaite-led side defeated the host nation 1-0 in the championship game on Sunday night, with Jermaine Garrett scoring for Guyana. The victory crowned an outstanding weekend for the Guyanese, who left the island with an unblemished record from six games.

Guyana started with goalless draws against Barbados and Guadeloupe, before nailing Martinique 1-0. Guyana then upped the ante against British Virgin Islands, trouncing them 5-0, followed by a 1-0 defeat of Dominica in the semi-finals. Remarkably, Guyana did not concede a goal all tournament and scored just eight in the six matches.

But while their success has generated tremendously positive vibes in the football fraternity, president of the GFF Wayne Forde had a salient message for the young footballers.

“I want to a few things that I’m hoping you’d take the right way. At this moment you’re not stars; you’re on the journey to becoming a star. And if anyone tries to fill your heads with the fact that you’ve arrived and you’re now a big superstar in Guyana, that’s going to set you back,” Forde reasoned.

Director of Sport Christopher Jones, Scotiabank Marketing Manager Jennifer Cipriani and GFF’s Technical Director Ian Greenwood with Guyana’s seven goalscorers during the tournament

He continued, “Exactly who you are before we got to St. Martin and won that tournament, that’s who you need to be moving forward. You need to be disciplined, humble, obedient, work under the guidance of your coach and the TD and work as hard as possible and that is when you’re going to realise you’re true potential, which, if I may add, may not exist in Guyana; it may be somewhere in Europe, but of course coming back to serve Guyana. So this is one step towards a destiny that awaits each and every one of you if you’re prepared to put the work that is necessary in and remain humble and focus on the task at hand.”

One of the sponsors, the National Milling Company (NAMILCO), presented tokens to four players Shawn Adonis, Marcus Wilson, Orville Daniels and Troni Semple and Marketing Consultant of the company Affeeze Khan stressed the entity’s commitment to local football. He shared greetings from Managing Director of NAMILCO, Bert Sukhai, noting the establishment is keen on youth development.

Courts Guyana Inc. recognised the efforts of Player-of-the-Tournament Wayne DaSilva and skipper Joshua Brathwaite for his outstanding leadership. Both were presented with tokens by Marketing Manager, Pernell Cummings, who urged the youngsters to always exercise a high level of teamwork and discipline, as that is the only sure way of success.

Ansa McAl Trading also embraced the team’s triumph by presenting vouchers to every member, and the company’s representative Sean Abel spoke of the entity’s interest in developing young talents.

He mentioned that while Ansa McAl Trading is a major sponsor of the marquee senior football tournament, the Stag Elite League, it is also an avid supporter of grassroot development, hence the decision to immediately reward the youngsters after the GFF reached out to management.

Director of Sport Christopher Jones presented specially branded National Sports Commission medals to all the players, signalling the administration’s commitment to supporting the players in their endeavours.

Jones referred to the old adage ‘to whom much is given, much is expected’, explaining that while the GFF’s corporate partners have been unflinchingly supporting the development of the game, the success of the Under-15 boys is just reward for their investment.

Scotiabank presented vouchers to all the goalscorers Orville Daniels, Ronaldo Rodrigues, Tyrel Khan, Kev Salvador, Omari Glasgow, Troni Semple and Jermaine Garrett, and Marketing Manager Jennifer Cipriani offered a piece of advice to the young footballers.

“It’s hard getting to the top, but it’s even harder staying on top. So I’m happy to hear Mr. Greenwood saying that the work really now starts because we now have to work harder to stay number one,” Cipriani noted.

Meanwhile, Technical Director of the GFF, Ian Greenwood, said Guyana’s success at the tournament was directly due to the efforts made in having Scotiabank’s Academy Training Centres in every corner of the country.

“This is a fantastic achievement for the boys and it’s all been done of teamwork. The most important message coming away from this tournament and this victory is the ‘One Team, One Dream.’ This is everyone pulling together, whether it’s all the coaches, all the support staff and all our sponsors, all going in the right direction. This is being achieved from the ATC (Academy Training Centre) Programme sponsored by Scotiabank,” Greenwood reckoned.

Another corporate partner, Impressions, presented each member of the team and technical staff with branded cap to mark the occasion.

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