Active League needed for more inclusion of local-based players, says Dover
By Akeem Greene
There have always been mounting calls for more local-based footballers to be given spots in the senior Golden Jaguars squad.
However, former Head Coach Wayne Dover indicated that would always pose a challenge due to the lack of a consistent league from which to select players.
The Guyana Football Federation (GFF) started its Elite League during the 2015-16 season; prior to that, there was the National Super League.
The Elite League started with much promise, but faced a complexity of issues, ranging from the top teams and players not participating to the dwindling of sponsorship.
The last edition of the League ended on May 27, 2019, and saw Fruta Conquerors successfully defending their championship with a perfect record.
Acting General Secretary of the Federation, Ian Alves, had stated in another section of the press that the political situation regarding the outcome of the nation’s General and Regional Elections, which occurred on March 2, 2020, is the reason for the stalemate.
That was 10 months after the last league ended.
“That has been a challenge by itself for the national team to include local-based players in the absence of any local league playing in the country because you would know that for a player to be selected for a national team they would have to be playing competitively throughout the season,” he told News Room Sport recently.
To fill the void, the Federation has implemented a system where a select group of players engage in weekly training sessions under the guidance of current Head Coach Márcio Máximo.
They had resumed training in January ahead of playing Barbados home and away in March to qualify for the 2021 Gold Cup, but COVID-19 forced the postponement of those encounters.
“The GFF has embarked on a programme to have selected players undergo weekly training which will complement the programme from a standpoint they are training on a regular basis and will be given the opportunity to be integrated into the squad with the foreign-born players.”
He added, “As much as there is no league, there is a substitute arrangement to actually give the local players an opportunity to play in the national team and that will come from weekly training and possibly international friendlies to give them valuable playing time.”
Concacaf will now organise a centralised Gold Cup preliminary round in the United States in the week before the commencement of the Gold Cup group stages in July 2021.
Guyana is among the 12 participating teams in that preliminary round.
The Golden Jaguars had qualified for the first time for the Gold Cup in 2019 and finished third in a tough group containing eventual runners-up United States, Panama and Trinidad and Tobago.