Q&A: The Guyana Football Scholarship Committee

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The Guyana Football Federation (GFF) has appointed a scholarship committee styled the ‘Guyana Football Scholarship Committee’ that will be responsible for the formulation of the GFF scholarship programme.

The five-member Committee, whose mandate will be for one year, is an Ad hoc one in accordance with Article 56 of the GFF Constitution and consists of Mr. Olato Sam, who is the Chairman, Mr. Rawle Small, Mr. Henry Chase, Ms. Lavern Fraser and Ms. Charissa Rampersaud.

Chairman Sam is the current Education Specialist in the Office of the Minister of Education and a former Chief Education Officer.

In a Question and Answer, President of the GFF Wayne Forde sought to put into perspective the importance of such a Committee to the overall development of Guyana’s football.

Question (Q): Why the need for such a committee?

Answer (A): My administration has played a significant role in the placement of five local football players into US Colleges over the past three years. Three females and two males. In doing this, we have experienced many challenges and have learnt many important lessons.

We can now take these lessons and use them to create a sustainable scholarship programme that will grow and expand for many years to come. The reason for the committee was to ensure that the development of the Guyana Football Scholarship programme, benefited from the expertise and experiences of a distinguished group on independent thinkers.

I am confident that this team of professionals will ensure that the tenets of good governance is embedded in every layer of the programme ie, the criterion are achievable, the application process is simple, and the evaluation and awarding of scholarship is fair and transparent.

This is essentially what the Committee, which is led by Mr. Olato Sam has been mandated to do.

Q: Given the challenges experienced with football still not being a deliberate part of the school’s curriculum, how effective do you see this committee being in carrying out its mandate?

A: The success of this programme will depend heavily on the participation of all stakeholders. During their work, I am confident that the Committee will identify the key stakeholder groups and will engage in serious consultation which will no doubt produce ideas and strategies for the operationalization of the programme.

The Ministry of Education and the GFF are the primary actors in the implementation of a comprehensive school football programme and I am confident that we will collectively develop a sustainable programme in the very near future.

Olato Sam (Photo taken from Guyana Times)

Q: How do you see the Committee operating in terms of all players in every part of Guyana seeing themselves as having an equal chance to be eligible?

A: The GFF coordinates all of its activities through the established football structure. Hence, the Regional Member Association (RMA) will be playing an important role in this programme. However, we will have to wait and see what recommendations the Committee will be making is this regard.

Q: Would there be equal opportunities across the board in terms of players attending not so recognised schools as opposed to those attending for e.g, QC and Bishops?

A: It is difficulty to earn the respect and support from Corporate Guyana, the Government of Guyana and other key stakeholder for a programme that does not emphasis fairness as a key pillar. I am confident that the Committee will provide clear guidance on how we will mitigate such concerns.

Q: How would you like to see clubs and RMA’s approaching this new and historic addition in order to maximise the chances of the players to cash in?

A: The Committee will make these determinations after consulting with the RMAs, the Clubs, players etc. My hope is that the entire football fraternity will be inspired by this initiative and will gladly play their part in ensuring its success.

We have an opportunity to change the lives of these young people, who will go on the build this country for the better. This is what a good education can do.

Q: Would there be any guidance forthcoming from the Federation to its members with regards to helping prepare players to make the grade, not necessarily in the first year, but going forward?

A: More and more we are training our Coaches to encourage basis attendance to school in their coaching sessions. A Coach is such an important figure in a Child’s life that it is imperative that that message and expectation is reinforced as often as possible. Beyond that, the entire football community has to make a conscious effort to demonstrate interest in much more than a child’s ability to play football well. We are building people first, then players.

Too often we confronted by former football players that are struggling to transition into a production work-life after their playing days are over. This is very heartbreaking and we must do something about it.

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