FOOTBALL: Frank Watson U-15 national champion to be crowned in February
By Avenash Ramzan
The best of the best will clash over three weekends in February to determine the nationwide champion of the Guyana Football Federation/Pele Alumni’s Frank Watson National Under-15 Inter-Association club football tournament.
Following the completion of the preliminary phase, 10 teams, drawn from the various Regional Member Associations, remain in contention for the coveted title.
On the weekend of February 2 and 3 at the Federation’s spanking new National Training Centre at Providence and on February 9 at the Anna Regina Community Centre ground, nine teams from three clusters will do battle for a place in the final playoff on February 16 at Providence.
Tabatinga of Rupununi has drawn the bye for the final playoff.
“And that decision was taken strictly based on the financial burden of bringing teams out of the Rupununi to participate on multiple days,” Bryan Joseph, Youth Development Officer of the Federation, explained.
In highlighting the significance of the tournament, John Yates of the Pele Alumni spoke of the late Frank Watson’s vision for the sport. Watson founded Pele FC and was the first president of the city-based club.
“Frank insisted that to be part of the club you had to attend school. (It was) important that education was part of your overall development,” Yates reflected.
Watson, a pilot, died a plane crash in 1973. The club he founded later became the number one team in the country.
“And the success of that was because of Frank,” Yates said. “Most of the guys that came up under Frank, we were able to go ahead. Because of their educational skills, they went abroad and were successful and right now they form the Pele Alumni, which is made up of former players and officials.”
The nine champion teams of the Regional Member Associations, along with Tabatinga will compete for the national title.
Cluster One will involve Corriverton Lynx of Berbice, BV/Triumph United of East Coast Demerara and Santos FC of Georgetown, while Cluster Two will bring together Timehri Panthers of East Bank Demerara, Eagles FC of West Demerara and Milerock of Upper Demerara.
Cluster Three comprises Dartmouth Dominators of Essequibo, Rising Stars of Bartica and Atkinson Brothers FC of Region One.
After a round-robin group phase, the winner of each cluster would advance to the final playoff to join Tabatinga.
Youth Development Officer, Bryan Joseph, spoke of the fact that players were given a lot of playing time prior to this phase of the competition.
“What this tournament does for youth development in Guyana, it’s transformational from what we had in the past. For this tournament, just the qualifying round, we have upward of 100 games played across this country, that is basically unheard of, and that would be in addition to tournaments that would have been organised by the respective Member Associations,” Joseph divulged.
Technical Director of the Federation, Ian Greenwood, stated that the tournament plays a crucial role in Guyana’s football development.
“It gives all the players across the country a platform to develop, a platform to push towards our target for our performance clocks for our players. So we’re looking for young players, by the time they reach senior international football, that they have participated in 10,000 hours of deliberate practice,” Greenwood explained.
“Those hours are then split between training and the playing environment. But this can only happen if we have games.”
February 2- National Training Centre, Providence
10:30h- Santos v BV/Triumph
12:30h- BV/Triumph v Corriverton Lynx
15:00h- Santos v Corriverton Lynx
February 3- National Training Centre, Providence
10:00h- Timehri Panthers v Eagles FC
12:30h- Eagles FC v Milerock
15:00h- Timehri Panthers v Milerock
February 9- Anna Regina Community Centre Ground
10:00h- Dartmouth Dominators v Atkinson Brothers FC
12:30h- Atkinson Brothers FC v Rising Stars
15:00h- Dartmouth Dominators v Rising Stars
February 16- National Training Centre, Providence
- Six games to be played, the first of which will start at 09:00h
- Games will involve Tabatinga and the winner of each cluster