IT IS NOT often that we, in the Land of Many Waters, find sports organisers irrespective of their status, planning in the background the successful hosting of another tournament in the same period that one is in its completion stage.But recently, while their Nestle Milo-sponsored Under-20 Inter-Secondary School Football Championship was winding down and the Banks DIH’s Guinness ‘Greatest of De Streets’ for teams on the East Coast of Demerara was entering the knockout stage, the Petra Organisation was streamlining arrangements to launch another tournament under its umbrella of activities for this year.
But who is Petra Organisation and why would it be receiving tremendous support from corporate Guyana, when it comes to the hosting of tournaments?
First of all, it is an organisation that is manned by two former football stalwarts, Troy Mendonca (Sunburst Camptown) and Marlon Cole (Fruta Conquerors) – two gentlemen, who, when they were in charge of the Georgetown Football Association (GFA), transformed the playing of football in the Capital City tremendously by organising 11 tournaments at all age groups.
There is a proverb that is used a lot by all and sundry: ‘Progress breeds enemies” and certainly, the progress being made by the GFA under the watchful eyes of Mendonca (president) and Cole (general secretary), certainly bred a lot of enemies, who planned a coup to evict them from office.
The rest is history, as the coup succeeded. Mendonca and Cole lost the stewardship of the GFA, whose president Vernon Burnett recently announced his resignation and refused to disclose his reason for doing so, until such time as he sees fit.
Nevertheless, Mendonca and Cole continued to fight for the development of football in Georgetown at various levels, starting with the COURTS (Guyana) Inc. Pee-Wee Under-11 tournament, followed by the resuscitation of the Guinness ‘Greatest of De Streets’ in Georgetown.
This tournament is being played in Linden and for the first time this year, it was contested on the West Coast of Demerara and is set for in Bartica as well.
“Before we were unceremoniously removed from the hierarchy of the GFA, we organised 11 tournaments within the year for the clubs who were affiliated to us, from Under-11 right up to Premier League for those who had first division status.
“However, after we left the GFA, COURTS (Guyana) Incorporated, having been impressed with our organisational skills, sought us to continue the Under-11 tournament, but due to certain hiccups some clubs who are affiliated to the GFA faced with the GFF, we could not run it as a club tournament,” said Cole.
He added, “We, at Petra sat down and looked at ways in which we can give to the sponsor and also football fans alike, hence the Schools Under-11 programme was born and that was a blessing in disguise.
“We approached the Ministry of Education and got its blessings while COURTS and the GFF also gave us their blessings and with COURTS adding more prizes and even doubling their budget for this year’s tournament while indicating their interest to make it a nationwide tournament, soon told us at Petra that we are doing a wonderful job.”
That Guinness ‘Greatest of De Streets’ tournament has spread its wings, since Linden and East Coast had their version being played, while there is a national tournament that sees the winners and their runners-up do battle for the top prize, which includes a trip to the Caribbean ‘Guinness Greatest of the Streets’ tournament first held in Guyana in 2011, once again under the guidance of Petra Organisation.
They switched their attention to the secondary schools two years ago and with valuable support from M. Beepat and Sons through their Nestle Milo brand of products, the Schools Under-20 championship was born and to date has grown tremendously as the years go by.
Even though it is only a three-year-old tournament, the talent on display every year has improved, which certainly says the objectives and achievements of the organisers are being achieved.
In fact, two years ago when the Kashif and Shangai Organisation – another organisation which has done its bit to see football in Guyana develop – was forced to play an Inter-School tournament, Kashif Muhammad in an interview said, ‘The Milo and Digicel Inter-School tournament can be used as a feeder by his organisation to select teams to compete in its CHICO/Elite Next Generation competition.
“Tournaments such as the Petra/Milo Under-20 and Digicel nationwide Inter-Secondary School competitions can be used as feeders to our very own Chico Elite Next Generation (CENG) tournament,” said Muhammad.
Quizzed on his thoughts about such comments, Cole said, “The fact that two tournaments can be seen as feeders into another programme is great for the sport of football in more ways than one.
However, we would like to see more tangible rewards being given, such as scholarships to players who perform exceedingly well both on the field of play and in the classroom; where a player who has gotten five subjects at CSEC will earnestly stay in school and look forward to playing in the K&S/CENG tournament, with the aim of securing a scholarship whether locally or internationally.”
For this year’s Nestle Milo Under-20 tournament, the Petra Organisation teamed up with Chase Academy to offer scholarships to five outstanding players.
Not one to rest on its laurels, the Petra Organisation will be taking on the responsibility with support from Banks DIH, to organise the Berbice and national playoffs of the Guinness ‘Greatest of de Streets’ competitions.
But while they are working out the logistics towards making their programmes a success story as was evident over the years, tonight they will be issuing uniforms and fixtures to teams who will be competing in another maiden tournament, the Guyana Beverage Company Busta Soft Shoes football tournament.
This tournament was launched last week Monday, even as plans were being mainstreamed for the successful culmination of the Nestle Milo Under-20 and East Coast ‘Guinness Greatest of De Streets’ competitions.
“One must tip his hat to this dynamic duo for a job well done, when it comes to the development of football in Georgetown. Hence I say again, congratulations to the Petra Organisation and keep up the good work as it relates to the playing and development of football.”
Says Calvin Roberts