GFF/FIFA commissions FIFA Forward Project Football Pitch

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Fruta Conquerors and National midfielder, 15-year-old Alleia Alleyne, cuts the ‘symbolic ribbon’ to commission the football pitch at the FIFA Forward Project. Also in photo (Standing in the forefront from left), CFU president Randy Harris, GFF president Wayne Forde, FIFA’s Director of Member Associations and Development Veron Mosgengo-Omba and Director of Sport Christopher Jones. (Delano Williams photo)

THE Guyana Football Federation (GFF), in the presence of a number of delegates from visiting affiliated Caribbean Football Union (CFU) countries for the start of the two-day FIFA Conference on Development, yesterday commissioned the football pitch at the country’s FIFA Forward Project, which will house their National Training Centre, at Providence.

The facility, located at the former Providence Community Centre ground on the East Bank of Demerara, sits on 8.5 acres of land which the GFF received via a 30-year lease from the Eccles/Ramsburg Neighbourhood Democratic Council (NDC).

“Today’s commissioning ceremony, will barely underscore the symbolic significance of the GFF, successfully completing its first FIFA FORWARD, all-weather artificial field,” GFF president Wayne Forde said during a brief statement at the auspicious occasion.

“To many we are finally delivering on a promise made almost three decades ago, to some. It is a proud achievement for the local football family and to others it is an appropriate reminder of the limitless potential of a stable and unified football fraternity. Through the FIFA Forward programme, we have had both the opportunity and privilege to render ourselves to the unfinished work of those that served before us,” Forde noted.

According to Forde, the unavailability of good quality football facilities across Guyana continues to strangle the progress of the game, adding that “football cannot fully develop without proper playing surfaces, changing rooms and field lighting. We have set ourselves an ambitious target, to construct one artificial field in each of our nine Regional Associations, over the next five years. This task must not be left to FIFA and the GFF alone, we need the Government of Guyana and Corporate Guyana to play their role.”

Meanwhile, FIFA’s Director of Member Associations and Development Veron Mosgengo-Omba, said the FIFA Forward Programme and the realisation of the facility at Providence, align perfectly with the vision of FIFA president Gianni Infantino, which is expressed in his ‘FIFA 2.0: the Vision for Football’ which, among other things, is to invest massively in the game of football, in order to help countries like Guyana, to realise and maximise their dreams in the sport.

Mosgengo-Omba further pointed out that the FIFA is proud of the progress made by the GFF, more so under the stewardship of Wayne Forde, while also noting that the sport’s world governing body is looking forward to building a stronger relationship with the Government of Guyana.

Christopher Jones, the Director of Sport, said the Government of Guyana shares the ‘apparition’ of the GFF and FIFA, to have nine facilities similar to the National Training Centre across Guyana, while reflecting and reminding the gathering of the David Granger-led Administration’s vision of helping to establishing a football facility at D’Urban Park.

“The government of Guyana recognises the importance of sports development, in which young people in this country will have an opportunity to exercise, to participate, to build and of course to provide to opportunity where the GFF will get to scout for talent throughout the length and breadth of this country … I am here to reaffirm the Government’s commitment, to president  Wayne Forde and the GFF, where it is necessary and where land needs to be available to them, we want you to rest assured that such will be done,” Jones added.

Guyana in 2007 under former president Colin Klass began work at Orangestein, on the East Bank of Essequibo, for what was supposed to be the location for Guyana first Goal Project.

When Klass found himself in ‘hot water’ for the ‘cash for votes’ scandal, Franklin Wilson, his vice-president at the time (2013), had assumed the post of president (ag) and travelled to Zurich where negotiations with FIFA’s Development Committee brokered US$500 000 to be allocated to Guyana to help get the ‘Goal Project’ off the ground.

Football in Guyana was in its worst state and for the first time in decades, elections were held and Christopher Matthias was elected as president.

Matthias, upon taking office, abandoned the plot of land, already owned by the GFF at Orangestein, stating that the distance was too out-of-bounds and sought further negotiations with the Ministry of Sport for land behind the National Track and Field Centre at Leonora.

Things again didn’t materialise, since the Government had only offered a little over three acres of land which FIFA said was a ‘no-no’.

Guyana was actually earmarked by FIFA to pioneer its ‘Goal Project’ with president Sepp Blatter making his maiden voyage in 1999 for the turning of the sod at the University of Guyana, but that also fell through after negotiations with the Guyana Government.