U-16 boys ready for huge UEFA tourney in Bosnia and Herzegovina
The Guyana Under-16 Boys’ National Team is about to make history by participating in a UEFA-organised friendly tournament in Europe, with Head Coach Vurlon Mills calling the unprecedented experience a “huge” opportunity for the players, staff and Guyana.
The four-team tournament, facilitated by UEFA Assist, has been moved to Bosnia and Herzegovina in central Europe from the original hosting nation Moldova, which shares a border with Ukraine.
The competition takes place between April 19 and April 24 and features European teams Lithuania, Montenegro, the hosts, as well as Guyana. It will be the first time a Guyanese national youth team has participated in a European tournament.
“The opportunity to have Guyana participate in a UEFA tournament is huge, not just for the players and coaches, but its huge for Guyana’s football development,” said Head Coach Mills, a former senior national team player.
“We are trying to improve as we go forward, and even though we play at one level in the Caribbean, we understand that UEFA is the next step ahead,” he said.
Guyana play Bosnia and Herzegovina on April 19, Lithuania on April 21, and Montenegro on April 24. Hosts Bosnia have ranked as high as 13th in FIFA’s world rankings, but currently lie in 59th place, with Lithuania in 138th place, and Montenegro, who have previously peaked at 16th, in 70th position.
The Guyana squad is currently in intensive preparation at the Guyana Football Federation (GFF) National Training Centre, following a nationwide search for talent. The travelling contingent of 20 players and eight staff departs for Bosnia on April 16.
“We have got plenty of individual talents,” Mills said. “We have seen a tremendous amount of improvement from these boys in every practice session. I’m really happy to be working with this team because I know, with this bunch, we can make a difference for football in Guyana.”
“We are using this tournament as part of our preparation phase going into the Concacaf U-17 qualifiers in August,” he explained.
Among the young talent eager to make an impression in Europe is 15-year-old Shakem Welcome, a centre back who plays for Timehri Panthers.
“It means the world for me to play for my country, to represent my country, and to make my family and everyone here back home proud,” Welcome said after a training session on Saturday.
“I get to showcase my talent in Europe, where all the big teams play,” he added.
“I want to say a big thank you to the GFF and to UEFA for giving us this opportunity to showcase Guyana’s talent in Europe.”