To construct High Performance Technical Centre
By Franklin Wilson
Having not yet been able to have a home of its own since coming into being since 1902, the Guyana Football Federation (GFF) through its Normalisation Committee has moved a step closer to that reality when it inked a 30-year lease with the Eccles/Ramsburg Neighborhood Democratic Council to take charge of the Providence ground, yesterday.
The simple but historic signing ceremony was held in the Community Centre of the 8.5 acre complex located at Providence, East Bank Demerara and was attended by Mr. Saeed Khan Chairman of the Eccles/Ramsburg NDC, GFF NC Chairman Mr. Clinton Urling, General Secretary Richard Groden and Ms. Abeena Moore Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Local Government who represented Local Government Minister Norman Whitthaker who was unavoidably absent.
In making the announcement, Urling noted that the GFF during its life to date would have observed some significant moments including becoming a member of the FIFA family in 1970, but the inking of the deal with the Eccles/Ramsburg NDC must be described as a monumental occasion for the sport.
“This is a blockbuster lease that will change the face of football in Guyana forever,” exclaimed the Chairman.
He noted that the process commenced months ago when a FIFA team visited these shores to engage in talks to reactivate the Goal Project which was unveiled in 1999 by FIFA with Guyana being among the first set of countries getting approval but was never able to get Goal Project One completed even though it started to some extent.
Yesterday’s signing of the lease would be followed by the sod turning ceremony in the near future Urling indicated.
“We’ve been speaking with FIFA to start the Goal Project here, we’ve also been speaking to them about the Challenger Project and under Challenger we’ll be able to build an artificial pitch at this facility which will run us to somewhere close to US$500,000, it’s a major investment.”
Urling, a businessman by profession, stated that the overall plan is to ensure that the GFF become a self sustaining organization that does not solely rely on FIFA through the Financial Assistance Programme (FAP), Government and Corporate support only.
“We can be able to host our own games and activities here and we can also rent the facility to other disciplines. In fact we are looking to put maybe a futsal pitch here, we’ll also look to put a beach soccer pitch here, some mini football courts and we’ll also look to establish a cricket pitch and if there’s space maybe a basketball court.”
The building that currently exists at the facility would be transformed into a Technical Theoretical Training Centre for the federation.
Talks have already commenced with local architects with a view to designing a state of the art facility. Urling also indicated that Guyana is eligible for two Challenger Projects as well as two Goal Projects.
“We’ll start work on this facility as soon as next week so within a year or two we should have a fully functioning facility here.”
NC Member Rabin Chandrapal came in for high praise by Urling for being the person who reached out to Director of Sport Neil Kumar who recommended that the NC take a look at the Providence ground.
A subsequent meeting was held with NDC Chairman Khan; a FIFA team also met with Khan and his executive who were always supportive of the initiative from the inception.
Khan in brief remarks stated that every single councilor was in favor of the project as well as members of the community. Khan reminisced on his days as a youth using the facility which he said was beautiful and also had a track for cycling.
“Every afternoon from school we would just throw down our books and come to the Providence ground which was very busy in those days as a young man. We played cricket, football, we had a table tennis, weightlifting where Mr. Hunt a former national cyclist was very much involved.”
Khan noted that when one looks back at what used to be and now, it is very sad to him.
“We formed a committee which was given a mandate to do what they had to do and they were not doing. When this initiative came up, our council said this is where we will go. It’s a bright future in front of us and I must thank the GFF for considering us and making this project a possibility.”
Urling noted that the minimum years for a lease arrangement which would see FIFA putting down capital investment is 20 years.
“This would not be the only Goal Project in terms of how we expend funds from it; we’re still pursuing the lease at Leonora to get that facility. That MoU should be signed pretty soon with the MCYS, we still have the facility at Essequibo.”
The NC Chairman hinted that the possibility exists that the GFF Headquarters could be relocated from the City but will first have to meet with its members to discuss the way forward.
Meanwhile, on March 18, 2013 Guyana was approved for a US$500,000 under FIFA’s Less Privileged Member Association’s initiative through then President (ag) Franklin Wilson who was a Member of the FIFA Development Committee.
Guyana was approved for its Goal Project on 2006-12-03. The project was to have been in the form of a Technical Centre and football pitch inclusive of spectator stands, changing rooms and dormitories at Orgenstein on the East Bank of Essequibo. The Goal Project amount at that time was US$400,000. Of this amount, only 89,725 was expended, the full details are available on the FIFA website.
The new figure for Goal Projects is now US$500,000.