Preservation of human lives of utmost importance, says GFF head


By Avenash Ramzan

As Guyana and the rest of the world grapple with the coronavirus pandemic, President of the Guyana Football Federation, Wayne Forde, said the preservation of human lives remains the focus and priority of his administration.

Speaking to News Room on Tuesday, Forde said while no football is being played due to the coronavirus threat, all emphasis is now on ensuring the safety of all those directly or indirectly affiliated to the ‘beautiful game.’

“I believe the greatest impact that it has had thus far is the threat to human lives. My perspective is that football needs to be seen as a sport. What the world is confronted with is the preservation of human lives and every decision that I’ve taken over the past couple of weeks has been focused on ensuring that the staff at the Federation is kept as safe as possible and to ensure we do not engage in any activity that would increase the chances of any of our stakeholders exposing themselves to being infected,” Forde asserted.

“Football is a game played and enjoyed by people and unless we do everything within our power to protect the lives of the people that bring value to the sport then we are not serving the best interest of humanity.”

Usually the Guyana Football Federation’s calendar of activities would commence with the transfer window in early January, before on-pitch action gets underway in late February, early March.

Prior to COVID-19 bringing a halt to local activities, the Federation was preparing for the senior national team’s participation in the Concacaf Gold Cup qualifier, getting the Elite League up and running and youth development programmes off the ground, among other activities.

Those have been shelved and according to Forde, the onus is now on the Federation to ensure stakeholders stay safe by following the stipulated guidelines shared by health authorities.

The senior national players were preparing for major regional and international engagements this year (Photo: Avenash Ramzan)

On March 15, the Federation announced that in light of the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, it has issued a circular to its Regional Member Associations, advising the postponement of matches for the March-April period, informing them of the scale down of operations at the Secretariat and educating them on key facts about the virus.

According to Forde, the real impact of COVID-19 would not be felt now, but rather when the situation returns to normalcy.

“When you consider football and the dynamics of the sport, to be out of football for as long as we have, and it is quite possible we would be out for it for a few more months, think about the loss of capacity, meaning the referees, those that are performing admin functions, (and) our players,” Forde reasoned.

“We all know that the sharpness of football is only maintained if someone is actually playing. Training obviously keeps someone sharp, but playing is the only way you can guarantee game awareness and sharpness. So the capacity loss is going to be felt later on, and as long as this shutdown continues to extend, the threat to the foundation of the sport will grow.”

One of the challenges Forde believes the sport will have to cope with post-COVID-19 is funding from corporate entities, who themselves are directly affected by the pandemic.

Some private sector businesses, whom football and sport in general in Guyana depend on for sponsorship to carry out their mandate, have had to take cost-cutting measures to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus.

Forde said he is cognizant of this development, and with the threat to sponsorship, he assured that the Federation has already committed to carrying the financial burden associated with bringing football back to life.

He also stated that the Federation has been engaging the world governing body FIFA and regional body Concacaf, highlighting the possible impacts of the virus on local football.

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