Government signs MOU with Football Federation, Hockey Board

- Land next to Cliff Anderson Sports Hall to be developed

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By Avenash Ramzan

The government of Guyana on Friday signed Memoranda of Understanding with the Guyana Hockey Board (GHB) and the Guyana Football Federation (GFF), paving the way for the construction of artificial surfaces for the two sport disciplines, West of the Cliff Anderson Sports Hall, Homestretch Avenue, Georgetown.

Representing the government at the signing were Minister of State Joseph Harmon and Director of Sport Christopher Jones, while signing on behalf of the two sports organisations were President of the GFF Wayne Forde and President of the GHB Philip Fernandes.

“This activity of declaring that area a specific area for sport not only benefits the Guyana Football Federation, but in our negotiations we insisted that the public must have access to these facilities, which I have asked the Guyana Football Federation to maintain. That is their corporate, social responsibility to the citizens of that community, particularly the young men in Lodge, in West Ruimveldt, East Ruimveldt…those communities that do not have real, proper playing facilities,” Minister Harmon related.

“These are important steps in our development. We’ve had a long history of doing well at cricket, and I believe the infrastructure for these two sports, hockey and football, has been an inhibitor in allowing for our players to move to the next level.”

The Minister added, “I think last week I was listening to a programme with the hockey people and they were speaking of how well they do on these turfs we have here, but when they actually go to compete internationally, they’re at a disadvantage because of the quality of the turf on which they used to play is different.”

Minister Harmon further stated that it is the hope of the administration that the area identified for development is utilised to benefit of the “young men and women of this country.”

“And that we can see an incremental increase in the number of persons who actually play these sports and the quality of their performance.”

Director of Sport Christopher Jones and GFF President Wayne Forde turn the sod at the location on Friday morning

GFF President Forde said the signing “marks a huge milestone for football in Guyana and a defining moment for every young boy and girl, who dreams of playing the game at the highest level.”

Forde expressed gratitude to the government and in particular His Excellency President David Granger “for his steadfast commitment to development of sports across Guyana.”

“This project has been in the works for some time and I want to thank everyone involved, who has helped to make it a reality,” Forde stated.

This new development comes immediately on the heels of the Federation’s first infrastructural project at Providence, funded by FIFA through its Forward programme. This is especially significant, given the Federation has been in existence since 1902.

“Thanks to the vision of the government, we now have an opportunity for a second major, groundbreaking and game-changing infrastructure project for football. There is no doubt that with little to show for more than a century, football is finally making meaningful progress, by building two football-exclusive facilities over the next four years,” Forde indicated.

The Durban Park Football Complex Project will house an international quality football-sized pitch, two mini pitches and a new headquarters for the Guyana Football Federation.

GHB President Philip Fernandes (left) and State Minister Joseph Harmon

GHB President Fernandes was understandably elated to bear witness to such a development, as executives have made repeated public calls for close to two decades for land to be made available.

“This is an unbelievable moment for our sport, for hockey. It has been so long we’ve trying to get space to have a facility for hockey and a home for hockey in the city. For me personally, it has been at least 18 years that I’ve been trying with the various authorities to get some acknowledgement. So this is an important moment for us and we’re very appreciative of the government for recognising this need and making it a priority,” Fernandes commented.

The Hockey boss spoke of a real opportunity to move the sport forward, as it will bring Guyana on par with the rest of the world, in terms of the modern surface that is used for training and competition.

“So this opportunity here now, which we hope to develop into full international standard artificial surface facility, would enable our young people not only to train on the kind of conditions that we compete, but also to invite foreign teams for the first time in over 30 years to Guyana to compete in outdoor hockey tournaments,” Fernandes explained.

Fernandes reasoned that the facility when completed will serve to expand the sport to young people who currently do not have access, since hockey is restricted to a few cricket clubs.

He also envisaged that the quality of players produced by Guyana would be significantly improved.

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