Child safety top priority as GFF undertakes National Girls’ U-15 Schools tournament


The inaugural Guyana Football Federation-Blue Water Shipping Under-15 Girls’ National Secondary School Championship, Guyana’s largest girls’ tournament, is nearing its May 4 kick-off date.

From May 4, more than one thousand student-athletes from sixty schools across the country will participate in the championship, which marks the start of the FIFA Football For School (F4S) programme competition phase.

F4S was launched collaboratively by FIFA, the GFF, and the Government of Guyana on May 12, 2022.

GFF President Wayne Forde noted that “we’re making history by launching the largest ever girls’ football competition in Guyana”, thanks to the continued support of Blue Water and the Ministry of Education.

The tournament will occur in nine administrative regions, with schools in Region Eight (Potaro-Siparuni) sitting out this year’s edition.

While this season’s players will come from sixty out of one hundred sixteen public schools, the GFF aims to expand the number of participating schools over the next four years.

“Our vision is to establish the F4S programme as a permanent fixture in schools throughout Guyana, encompassing nursery, primary and secondary levels.

F4S has much to do with football but more to do with life skills development. Football is a team sport and can enrich one’s life,” Forde shared.

He stressed that the safety of all participants is the GFF’s utmost priority, revealing that officials will attend Child Safeguarding workshops before kick-off and throughout the competition.

“We will take firm steps to ensure child safeguarding is instituted in every aspect of our football operations. We have to be assured, the Federation, our parents, the teachers, and the parents in particular, that when their daughters and sons are entrusted into the care of coaches and teachers to travel long distances to play football, they are treated fairly, that they are safe, and that they are never compromised.”

Safeguarding the students will be a top priority (PHOTO: News Room/Jeremy Jagroop/April 24, 2024)

The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Blue Water Shipping and the GFF was inked three years ago to launch the Blue Water Girls’ Development League, which aligned with the F4S programme.

GFF Technical Director Bryan Joseph noted that “we realised that the competition would be one of the key drivers of the F4S programme when it was initially launched several years ago. We trained over 70 teachers across the nation in the F4S philosophy.”

“Our ultimate objective is to establish a high-performance programme for female football. We believe that mass participation is key to our developmental training as we strive to make games accessible to everyone, especially young girls,” he explained.

“Our goal for this competition is to encourage widespread involvement from all the key stakeholders, including the girls, teachers, coaches, parents, coordinators, volunteers, fans, and our friends in the media.”

Richard DeNobrega, Senior Vice President of Sales and Development at Blue Water Shipping, reiterated his company’s commitment to supporting grassroots football in Guyana.

Addressing the audience, he noted, “I see future football stars sitting among us. I see a huge amount of potential here, and it is our duty as members of the private sector, our duty as a company, and our duty as partners of the GFF to ensure that the potential that’s sitting right here ends up on the world stage representing Guyana.”

Noting that “sport and the principles of sports transcend way beyond the field,” DeNobrega added: “We will continue at Blue Water Shipping to partner with the GFF, and we are thrilled to participate in such events. I’m very excited to be part of this long-awaited and anticipated launch of the U15 Girls League.”

Nicholas Fraser, Head of the Ministry of Education Allied Arts Unit, shared that the Ministry fully supports the F4S programme. The tournament covers “a pretty good spread in terms of its reach.”

He emphasised that the competition aligns with the Ministry’s ongoing programmes, highlighting that these events “support a national sports system, so national athletes will likely come through these kinds of tournaments, which are very important. We wish to ensure that all the children have good experiences all around.”

The competition will showcase emerging talents through three stages: the preliminary round-robin matches played in the regions, the Round of 16, and the Group Stage matches.

The Round of 16 and the eight Group Stage matches will be held at the Ministry of Education Ground on Carifesta Avenue in Georgetown and the GFF National Training Centre.

The national championship is designed to prioritize player development.

Each player is guaranteed a minimum of six matches and the potential to compete in up to sixteen.

Standout performers will be identified for further training within the national team programme.

GFF U-15 League Operations Coordinator Lavern Fraser clarified that no red cards will be issued during this tournament; instead, we are using what we call the ‘Sin Bin’ approach.

If there is a player who the officials deemed would have erred enough to warrant a red card, then that player will be asked to leave the field for three minutes while they are in the ‘Sin Bin’.

It means that the team will have to play without that one person. If it’s a goalkeeper, a player on the field must take the goalkeeper’s position.

The winner of each region will be awarded a trophy, and the tournament will feature championship and runner-up trophies.

Other awards will be presented to the leading goal scorers, Most Valuable Players (MVPs), and top goalkeepers.



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