Jeremy Garrett: Playing football in Guyana without a salary is tough
By Akeem Greene
National footballer Jeremy Garrett has hailed the Guyana Football Federation’s (GFF) plan to develop a professional league in 2021, noting it would have a positive impact on the lives of local footballers.
According to Garrett, the lack of finances and growing responsibilities drive players away from the sport.
“I am so overwhelmed to hear this news; it is a joy to hear this coming to Guyana in a professional arena. Outside of getting paid, the professionalism alone that comes will be big for Guyana and everybody is going to benefit,” he told News Room Sport on Tuesday.
With the support of UEFA and CONCACAF, the GFF earlier this month announced it will in 2021 be creating its first professional football league.
The GFF will receive support from European football’s administrative and competitions experts to explore and define the most appropriate approach for establishing the required infrastructure, football standards, technical capacity and commercial ecosystem.
A rewarding part of this structure will stable wages for players in Guyana.
“This initiative is going to be big so that players will just focus on football. I know for sure talent-wise in Guyana will improve because we already have players doing so well locally and not being paid imagine where they are being professionally,” Garrett reasoned.
The Elite League, which started in 2015, offered similar benefits, but not all the clubs were able to sustain a payment structure. That league has been on hold since May 2019.
Currently, clubs such as Police Sports Club and Guyana Defence Force offer players substantial monthly salaries and other benefits.
“Growing up out of 100, I was ranked 70 talent-wise among kids my age; I was fortunate enough among kids my age to have parents who looked out for me with meals, school uniform and the necessities, however, with a lot of players, and the majority, it is hard for them because people know the type of kids [who generally] play football in Guyana, it is not rocket science,” explained the Fruta Conquerors player.
The former National Under-20 captain further revealed, “Playing here without a salary is tough and I know players who were talented and exceptional, who you might have wanted to invest into but they fell off for financial reasons…these players from these areas without getting paid or reimbursed for their skill, it is tough for them.”
The 20-year-old, who was fortunate to gain a scholarship to study an Associate Degree in Rehab Science at the Louisiana University (LSU) Eunice, explained that for many it is not easy by any means and when they reach a certain age, tough decisions have to be made.
“…you have to make the choice now when you reach 17-18 if it is either I play football and not earn anything, sweat and tears, believe in coaches that one day it going to happen or leave this football and get a job and support mom and dad.”
Golden Jaguars have a busy 2021 calendar, with both World Cup qualifying fixtures and Gold Cup group stage qualification.
Despite the current pandemic, Garrett said he has kept up his personal fitness work, with the hope of regaining a spot in the squad. He last played in 2017 against Indonesia.
“Next year, (I) would certainly be happy to be a member of the squad to showcase my ability, other youngsters such as Curtez Kellman, Sunil Logan, Kelsey Benjamin and Pernell Schultz come out and put in the work so when the time comes to represent Guyana, we are ready.”