FIFA-funded High-Performance programme enlivens Guyana’s U-17 World Cup ambitions


With the intention of qualifying for a FIFA Under-17 World Cup, which from 2025 will be held every year, the Guyana Football Federation (GFF), through FIFA, is investing in the development of its male Under-15 and Under-16 players.

Technical Director Bryan Joseph on Friday announced that the Federation has been approved as a beneficiary of the FIFA Talent Development Scheme (TDS), a High-Performance programme aimed at fostering the growth and development of top talents in countries that benefit.

According to FIFA, TDS aims to create a sustainable legacy for long-term talent development by maximising each participating Member Associations’ opportunities, as identified in their individual ecosystem analysis report.

FIFA’s commitment to the programme is vindicated by the US$200 million fund that it has provided for the scheme.

“It is to give talents in Guyana every chance at success,” Technical Director of the GFF Bryan Joseph said on Friday.

Joseph was at the time speaking at a press conference alongside Racing Madrid Football Club President Steve Nijjar and former Real Madrid Football Club mid-fielder now UEFA Pro Licence coach Rubén de la Red.

The briefing took place at the GFF headquarters in Campbellville, Georgetown.

In October 2023, GFF and Racing Madrid FC signed a Memorandum of Understanding.

From left: Racing Madrid FC President Steve Nijjar, Guyana Football Federation Technical Director Bryan Joseph and UEFA Pro Licence coach Rubén de la Red at a press conference on Friday

Joseph explained that the GFF is beginning to reap the rewards as the Spanish club has facilitated hiring the UEFA Pro Licence coach, who meets the FIFA requirements for the job.

The Spanish coach will focus on the technical work of players selected in the programme, with a general pool of 40 players but a focus group of 24.

The programme has commenced with players mainly from Georgetown, East Coast Demerara and West Demerara, who train at least three times per week, while on weekends, players from Linden, Bartica and Berbice take the limelight.

“We don’t have expertise in high-performance coach, and FIFA has afforded us that opportunity. From 2025, there will be the U-17 World Cup, and it means every year Guyana will have a chance to qualify for the U-17 World Cup, and this programme is the next step to our Academy Training Centre,” the Technical Director expressed.

While the Academy is focused on top players within Associations, this programme is solely for the top players in the country.

The GFF will also change its youth structure to have players contest over 40 matches per year in keeping with what obtains in age-group football in Europe.

Joseph referenced a FIFA study, which revealed that on average, Caribbean youth footballers play just 10-12 matches per year.

However, the main issue is finding a way to incorporate players from all associations into the programme, and the Technical Director noted that a partnership with the Ministry of Education would be critical in achieving such a goal.

The Technical Director explained that ideally they need four to five sessions, including a match, per week with players, as “the biggest challenge is not the distance but the schooling.”

He said they would have to explore options for creating a hybrid learning system where players can train and get schooling while encamped at the GFF National Training Centre at Providence, East Bank Demerara.

FIFA is expected to provide an initial annual subvention of US$50,000 for the project, which will increase as the programme evolves.

The world’s governing body for football will also cover the cost of Ruben’s stay in Guyana.

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