GFF laying building blocks for 2026 World Cup qualification

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By Avenash Ramzan

While a massive global audience will focus its attention on the 2018 Football World Cup, set to start in a month’s time in Russia, the Guyana Football Federation (GFF) is positioning itself to have Guyana amongst the nations at the 2026 event.

Guyana has never qualified for a Football World Cup, and the Wayne Forde-led GFF is looking to lay building blocks to ensure that changes in the not too distant future.

At a gala Dinner and Awards ceremony, the first such event in many years for football, Forde shared a positive intent on the part of the GFF to chart the course for qualification to one of the biggest sporting events.

“However, for Guyana to qualify for the 2026 World Cup, we need a national alliance of all stakeholders to invest the time and resources necessary to prepare the nation’s team. Each citizen, every business, every member of our fraternity, the Government of Guyana, the international community, all coming together to be a part of this exciting journey,” Forde told the gathering on Friday night at the Sleep Inn Hotel and Casino on Church Street.

Delivering feature remarks at the event, Forde said the GFF will direct its investments towards eight key development pillars, which will stimulate the national football culture necessary for the 2026 campaign.

They are Coaching Education, Grounds and Facilities, Grassroot football, School football, Club football, International football, Elite Academy Training Centres and Growing the Football Brand.

“We must double our investment in Coaching Education and with strong emphasis on early exposure for our Elite Coaches. We must work with the Government of Guyana and other international stakeholders to develop grounds on a national scale. Too many football venues are without the basic facilities needed to accommodate female participation. We must consolidate our investment in Grassroots football development in order to create an environment where more boys and girls will have an equal opportunity to play in more places, more often. The will enabling early talent spotting,” Forde explained.

He continued, “We must implement a National Primary and Secondary School Football programme, which will include league competitions along with other smaller versions of the game. These competitions are essential for the expansion of Guyana’s player population. We must increase our investment in a Nationwide Boys and Girls Club Competition programme, Under-13, 15, 17 and 20. Clubs are the corner stone of any notion football ambition and must be give the necessary support to develop their players.”

“We must afford our players the earliest possible international exposure through regional competitions and Friendlies. This will build the mental resilience necessary to compete at the Regional level. We must expand the Elite Scotia Bank Academy Training Centre (ATC) programme across Guyana. The GFF will be establishing 13 additional sites, which will take the total number of ATCs to 26. We have to reconnect the game with the communities and reconnect the communities with the Clubs. The important undertaking must involve the communities and all stakeholders.”

Forde added that to positively shift the course of Football in Guyana, each member must lift the standard of his/her administration and develop initiatives and programmes that extend beyond the field of play.

He also pointed out that corporate Guyana must seek to build stronger relationship with the football fraternity and utilise their know-how to stimulate the much needed changes in attitudes “we all wish to see.”

“We can all play an important role in encouraging the emerging culture of transparency and accountability by setting clear and definitive rules of engagement. The Government of Guyana must utilise every opportunity to maximise the Football platform to influence the reversal of the many social challenges that prey on the future of our players. Football can reduce crime, it can slow the spread of HIV, it can stimulate healthy lifestyles, it can promote tolerance, it can bring communities and people together; it can engender hope among the hopeless,” Forde asserted.

“I wish you all an enjoyable evening; let the dream begin…FIFA 2026,” the GFF head concluded to rapturous applause.

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