GFF will help clubs navigate COVID-19 protocols- Forde

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President Wayne Forde on Thursday said the Guyana Football Federation (GFF) stands ready to assist and work along with clubs in navigating the COVID-19 protocols, once permission is granted for the season to officially commence.

The Federation, in early January, issued its calendar of activities for 2021, subject to conditions and approvals of the National COVID-19 Task Force. One of the major events for this year is the return of the Elite League, slated for March to October.

The Elite League was last held in 2019.

Daniel Thomas, the Secretary of Fruta Conquerors, the defending champions of the Elite League, while enthusiastic about the return of football, was curious about the type of COVID-19 measures that would be in place and how much responsibility would be placed on clubs, the majority of whom encounter financial challenges, even under normal circumstances.

“I think one of the biggest impediments right now that most clubs will be faced with, is exactly what will be required from each individual club for them to be part of the league in terms of the protocol,” Thomas related to News Room Sport on Friday last.

The Tucville-based club Fruta Conquerors are defending champions of the Elite League

Forde, in an exclusive interview with News Room Sport on Thursday, touched on the Federation’s input in getting those teams compliant with the measures.

“Well, it’s a process that came about as a result of the Bounceback project that we’re doing with UEFA. One of the key components in that process would be the approval that we are granted by the National COVID-19 Task Force. We have two key components of our plan- the return to training and the return to play,” Forde explained.

“The return to training plan we were able to obtain approval for the national team to train. There is another tier of that plan which is a return to training for regional clubs. The Elite League clubs would be included in that and there are specific guidelines and protocols around how that is done. The GFF understands that we would have to come in in a very big way to help the clubs to navigate those protocols. It is not things that they’re used to and it’s going to take some adaptation.”

Forde continued: “Our clubs can rest assured that they will receive all the support that is required to help them. It will demand a little bit more of them, but we’re going to be providing as much support as is needed to ensure that once approval is granted for our Elite League clubs to begin their preparation in anticipation of a kick-off of the League that the GFF is there to walk them through and provide whatever training and support they would need to protect the players and officials during the preparation.”

Under the 2021 proposals, competitive matches could kick off as early as mid-January with an official GFF futsal tournament, while full leagues and tournaments for men, women, boys and girls are provisionally slated to commence in March.

All competitions are contingent on a safe and secure playing environment and can only proceed with the approval of the authorities.

The GFF’s own COVID-19 Task Force will continue to oversee and implement the Federation’s Bounceback strategy, with regional associations and private entities required to submit proposals for tournaments for review to ensure appropriate health and safety protocols are in place.

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