NAMILCO Flour Power U-17 tourney to coincide with Golden Jubilee

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By Avenash Ramzan

As part of its five-year strategic developmental partnership, the Guyana Football Federation (GFF) and the National Milling Company (NAMILCO) on Tuesday unveiled the second annual Thunderbolt Flour Power National Under-17 Intra-Association tournament, set to kick off in March.

Scheduled to end in late July with the National Inter-Association Playoffs, the tournament, which will feature teams from the nine Regional Member Associations (RMAs), will coincide with the Milling Company’s 50th anniversary this year.

At the official launch on Tuesday at NAMILCO’s head office at Agricola, high-ranking officials of the two entities spoke of the impact the tournament has had on Guyana’s football development, and their expectations of the signature 2019 event.

Managing Director of NAMILCO, Bert Sukhai, said the company, which has been in existence since 1969, is committed to the development of football in Guyana, and that was aptly demonstrated by the signing of a five-year, multi-million-dollar sponsorship package with the GFF in 2016.

“NAMILCO is here long-term and when we make a commitment we keep it. I want to wish you guys (GFF) well in terms of your planning and ensuring it is executed properly, down to the lowest level. You have to be on top of things to keep it going. All your RMAs have to be fully alert to what their responsibilities are and what we expect of them,” Sukhai commented.

Competitions Director of the GFF, Ian Alves, said the effect of this single tournament on the performance of the national teams at the youth level in international football since its commencement has been “immeasurable.”

He reflected that the inaugural competition in 2018 “was successfully conducted” with a total of 514 games, involving teams from all corners of Guyana, producing 1,033 goals.

Alves posited that the tournament “contributed significantly to youth development and youth playing of football in Guyana.”

“In one single tournament we’ve been able to influence Guyana’s performance at the youth level at international tournaments since majority of our players came from playing within the National GFF-NAMILCO Thunderbolt Flour Power U-17 tournament,” Alves related.

Technical Director of the GFF, Ian Greenwood, added that the tournament has taken on added significance this year.

“This year we have the World Cup Qualifiers coming up in May, and because Guyana Under-17 is now ranked 18th in Concacaf, which is a massive jump up from what is was, we’ve been pushed into the final round, so in May we will play Haiti, Honduras and El Salvador. Obviously, it’s a very tough group, but it shows the work we’ve been doing at the Under-17 level to ensure we’ve been ranked 18th,” Greenwood explained.

He added, “The (NAMILCO) tournament will give us an opportunity to scout more players from across Guyana and all the RMAs to show we have the very best players in the national team programme.”

GFF president Wayne Forde, in extending congratulations and best wishes to the management and staff of NAMILCO on their Golden Jubilee, said the Federation is pleased to play a part in observing the occasion.

“I think it is fitting that football is taking centre stage on such an auspicious occasion for this company, and it speaks to company’s values as it relates to the reinvestment into our most important asset, and that is our human asset,” Forde said.

He added, “At the Guyana Football Federation, we understand very clearly that unless we invest consistently over time we would not be able to impact the development of football and the development of our players, to the extent that we wish to. The partnership with the National Milling Company is a recognition of that fact.”

Financial Controller at NAMILCO, Fitzroy McLeod, pointed out that the positive markers have been spotted by the company.

“We’re seeing a much broader base of talent being drawn upon in our national age group teams, in our camps. We’re seeing the impact of much higher activities in all of the RMAs and therefore the talent is coming through, the quality of the competition is of a much higher standard. We’re seeing much more diversity in our teams with all the regions being represented and we’re seeing a lot of competence in the hosting of these tournaments run by the GFF,” McLeod highlighted.

Participating teams will come from the nine RMAs, namely Bartica, Berbice, East Bank Demerara, East Demerara, Essequibo/Pomeroon, Georgetown, Rupununi, Upper Demerara and West Demerara.

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