GFF congratulates Kellman on Pro Contract

The Guyana Football Federation (GFF) on Saturday extended its congratulations to Golden Jaguars and former Western Tigers midfielder Curtez Kellman on securing a two-year professional contract with U.S. team Sporting Kansas City II.

Sporting Kansas City II, affiliated with the city’s Major League Soccer (MLS) team, is part of the new MLS Next Pro league, which is classified in the third tier of the U.S. soccer system. Kellman impressed the club during a trial facilitated through Guyanese-born former Canadian international and Sporting Kansas City striker Alex Bunbury, the Guyana Football Federation and Western Tigers.

“We are delighted for Curtez, and have every faith in him to seize this amazing opportunity and work hard to reach his full potential as a player in this crucial phase of his career,” said GFF President Wayne Forde. “Curtez is not only a hugely talented young man; his exemplary attitude, commitment to his career, and dedication to improve every aspect of his game since a young age have impressed everyone who has had the pleasure of working with him. He is a true role model for all young players in Guyana to follow.”

The MLS Next Pro is designed as a feeder system for the MLS. According to Bunbury, Kellman has all the ingredients necessary to impress the Canadian Soccer Hall of Fame player’s old club and make the step up to the top tiers of U.S. soccer.
“This is a really special moment because it opens the door for other Guyanese players to get these kinds of opportunities,” said Bunbury. “The type of player that my old club Sporting Kansas City are looking for is exactly what this young man is. He has got quality and his character is impeccable. We should all be complimenting this young man because the feedback I’m getting from everyone is that he is a class act on the field and off the field.”
Golden Jaguars Head Coach Jamaal Shabazz encouraged Kellman, who has also played for Georgetown Football Club, to “make a total commitment” to this opportunity and said he looked forward to “monitoring his progress”.

GFF’s Forde promises Waramadong an Academy Training Centre

Guyana Football Federation (GFF) President Wayne Forde has pledged to establish an Academy Training Centre (ATC) in Waramadong to boost hinterland football development, during a visit to the Region 7 community this week.
The President also donated football equipment to the village sports council and offered to organise GFF training for coaches, referees and club administrators for the Region where, because of its difficult terrain and logistical challenges, some areas are not adequately served.

The Federation regularly undertakes outreach, equipment donations, and capacity building activities in hinterland communities that are not covered within the boundaries of the GFF’s nine Regional Associations, and Forde underscored the reason for this, “It is vital for the GFF – and for me, personally – to ensure that all corners of Guyana have access to football development resources and support, as our nine Regional Associations do not cover the entire geography of the country,” Forde said.

“My meetings this week with Waramadong village leaders and the sports council were extremely positive, and we look forward to working together to develop football and to give young people in the community the opportunities they deserve to reach their full potential,” he said.

Forde said the GFF Technical Department will begin work immediately on planning for the creation of a special Academy Training Centre in the village, which boasts one of the most successful school football teams in Guyana.

The GFF’s ATC programme is an elite youth development initiative for boys and girls, which provides professional-standard sessions delivered by trained GFF-affiliated coaches. The programme, which currently only covers the GFF’s Regional Associations, has been hailed by FIFA and Concacaf as a pioneering template for football development in the Caribbean region.

“We are determined to give all talent in Guyana a chance to reach our national teams, no matter where it is based,” said Forde, who also undertook an outreach to Mabaruma in Region 1 earlier this year. “We want to reward proactive and committed football communities. No Guyanese should have to miss out on the GFF’s national football pathway just because of the limitations of the regional association structure we inherited.”

“We know the past year has been challenging for all footballers across Guyana,” he said, “but, thanks to the national vaccination programme, there is now a light at the end of the tunnel. We continue to urge the football community to fully support the vaccination drive, so that we can move out of this pandemic, protect our loved ones, and return to play very soon.”

Neymar slams CONMEBOL as Gabriel Jesus ruled out of final with two-game ban

Brazil striker Neymar has hit out at South American football body CONMEBOL after confirmation Gabriel Jesus is out of the Copa America final against Argentina because of a red card he received during his team’s 1-0 quarterfinal win over Chile.

CONMEBOL said in a statement on Tuesday it suspended Jesus for two matches. The striker didn’t play on Monday in Brazil’s 1-0 semifinal victory against Peru, being replaced by winger Everton.

Neymar Jr.

Jesus was sent off shortly before the second half of Brazil’s victory against Chile after he hit Eugenio Mena with a flying kick. The Brazilian said it was an accident and apologised.

“It is very sad to be on the hands of people who make this kind of decisions,” Neymar said of the incident on Instagram.

CONMEBOL also fined Jesus $5,000. Brazil cannot appeal the decision. Jesus said on Instagram he did not agree with the decision.

“Two-match ban and no appeal? Congratulations CONMEBOL. I think you didn’t see what happened right,” he wrote.

Neymar also posted on Instagram to support his teammate.

The Copa America final will be played on Saturday at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro.

Two years ago Jesus scored a goal and had an assist in Brazil’s 3-1 win in the Copa America final against Peru, but he was also sent off after a harsh tackle. He is the only player who has received a red card twice under coach Tite.

(Story from Associated Press)

Copa America: Argentina’s Messi tells Yerry Mina to ‘Dance now’ following shootout win

A fired-up Lionel Messi mocked Yerry Mina, telling him to “Dance now,” as Argentina beat Colombia on penalties on Tuesday to set up a Copa America final against Brazil.

Everton defender Mina missed Colombia’s third penalty as Argentina won 3-2 following a 1-1 draw in normal time in Brasilia.

Mina is known for dancing after scoring goals and pulled out his trademark celebration in the quarterfinal after netting in the shootout win over Uruguay.

However, Mina’s penalty was saved by Emiliano Martinez on Tuesday, with television footage cutting to Messi screaming, “Dance now” at his former Barcelona teammate from the halfway line.

Yerry Mina

With the game played without fans due to the coronavirus pandemic, the footage also picked up Aston Villa goalkeeper Martinez’s attempts to put off Mina in the build-up to the penalty.

“Look, the ball’s not on the spot,” he told the referee as the centre-back stepped up to shoot.

He then shouted at Mina: “You’re nervous, huh? I can tell you’re nervous. I know where you’re going to shoot. Watch and see how I’m going to eat you up. Remember, I’m going to eat you up.”

Luis Diaz’s second-half goal canceled out Lautaro Martinez’s opener for Argentina and took the game to penalties, with no extra time in the Copa America except for in the final.

In the shootout, Martinez also saved from Davinson Sanchez and Edwin Cardona to help the Albiceleste progress to Saturday’s final against Brazil at the Maracana in Rio de Janeiro.

“It was a tough game, but we deserved to win,” Messi said. “We had to dig deep at times, but we have [Martinez] and he’s a phenomenon. I’m really happy for him; he deserves it.”

Messi, who is a free agent after his Barcelona contract expired on June 30, has never won a major trophy with Argentina.

He won the U20 World Cup and the Olympic Games with the U23s, but has lost four finals with the senior side, including three in the Copa America.

“It’s the final [against Brazil] that we were all hoping for,” Messi said. “It’s going to be a very even game, a very tough game. We’ve achieved our main goal, which was to reach the final itself. Now we have to try and win it.”

(Story from ESPN FC by Sam Marsden & Moises Llorens)

Briggs to captain Golden Jaguars for upcoming World Cup qualifiers

Former England youth international Matthew Briggs will captain Guyana’s senior men’s national team in its two 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers in June.
Briggs, who plies his trade in the Danish Superliga for Vejle Boldklub, will lead the side in its must-win Group F fixtures against St. Kitts and Nevis on June 4 and Puerto Rico on June 8.

“I’m honoured to accept the captaincy – it’s always been a dream of mine to captain a national team so I am thoroughly excited to get this journey started and to see what the future holds,” said 30-year-old defender Briggs, who was the youngest player to play in the English Premier League when he made his debut for Fulham aged 16 years and 68 days in May 2007.
“We’ve got two games coming up and I hope we all give 110 percent like I know we will. We’ve got all the capabilities to go and win both of these games.”
Briggs made his first international appearance for the Golden Jaguars in a 2-0 friendly win against Grenada in 2015. Capped 14 times so far, he scored his first goal for Guyana in a 4-2 victory over Aruba in the Concacaf Nations League in November 2019.

“There’s excitement in the camp. Going on the last camp, we didn’t perform to our full potential, which was disappointing for us, so we are excited to get into these two games now and put that right. We want to win both games. I look at both these games and I think we are favourites to win them. I think we will be the better team and we’ve got more than enough quality to win both of these games.”

Head Coach Marcio Maximo said Briggs was a natural choice to lead the team because of the professional example he set to the other players during matches and away from the field of play.
“Equally important as performance and attitude on the pitch is attitude off the pitch – that is why we have chosen Briggs,” Maximo said. “He always showed good commitment and a professional attitude. He stimulates all the younger players to follow his example. He is always at the same level in good and bad times, totally professional, and the players respect him.”

The Golden Jaguars are training in Antigua before departing for St. Kitts and Nevis on June 2 for their last two first round matches. After a 3-0 loss against Trinidad and Tobago and 4-0 win over the Bahamas in March, Guyana lies in third place in Group F and requires favourable results elsewhere to reach the second round. Only the top team from each group will progress.

“We wish Matthew all the best as he skippers the Golden Jaguars for the first time in June,” said Guyana Football Federation President Wayne Forde. “It’s a great honour to lead one’s country, and we know Matthew has got everything it takes to be an inspiration and example to his team on and off the pitch.”

“We would also like to pay tribute to Sam Cox, who has captained Guyana with passion and dedication in recent years. Sam has been a great ambassador and warrior for Golden Jaguars. The whole nation is grateful for his service in leading Guyana to some of its greatest moments on the pitch, including reaching its first men’s Concacaf Gold Cup in 2019,” Forde said.

Garrett, Hackett, Benjamin, Caesar included in Golden Jaguars Squad for WCQs against T&T and The Bahamas

Head Coach Marcio Maximo has named eight alumni of the  Guyana Football Federation’s pioneering Academy Training Centre programme in his final 23- man squad for the 2022 FIFA World Cup first round qualifiers this month. 

Maximo has also selected three new non-domestic players for the squad, which will play Trinidad and Tobago on March 25th and the Bahamas on March 30th in the Dominican Republic in Guyana’s first international matches since the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

‘It’s a strong and very competitive squad selection with a lot of energy in all areas of the field,”  said Maximo. “The squad is renewed, which is a continuous cycle for us. I am very confident we  can be successful and reach the second round of FIFA World Cup qualifying – this is my target  and job!” 

Ryan Hackett (left) and Kelsey Benjamin (right) are part of the Golden Jaguars setup.

Shawn Adonis, Nicolai Andrews and Omari Glasgow – all members of the 2017 U15 Soualiga  Cup winning national youth team – join Jeremy Garrett, Ryan Hackett, Nicolas McArthur,  Kelsey Benjamin and Jobe Caesar as the latest successful products of the GFF’s ATC youth  development system to take the step up to the senior squad. 

UK-based right back Miguel Scarlett, Watford defender Bayli Spencer-Adams and Bournemouth  midfielder Nathan Moriah-Welsh make the final 23 for the first time, while Cambridge United  goalkeeper Kai McKenzie-Lyle returns to the fold. 

Domestic-based members of the squad on Wednesday departed from Ogle airport for the Dominican Republic, where they will be joined by non-domestic-based players to begin an  extended training encampment. 

To qualify for round two in Concacaf’s qualification process for the 2022 FIFA World Cup,  Guyana must top its group, which also includes Saint Kitts and Nevis and Puerto Rico. 

“We know Trinidad and Tobago are tough opponents,” said Golden Jaguars captain Sam Cox. “We’ve got a rich history with them. We know they’re going to offer and present a real challenge. We are preparing ourselves for that by coming into camp a couple of days earlier, just to give  ourselves that extra preparation and to bond within the team. That’s going to be invaluable.”

“Then, of course, we have the Bahamas on the 30th, so we have two good fixtures that we will be  looking to take wins in. We’ve got a good couple of weeks ahead of us – we just have to prepare  correctly.” 

Head of Recruitment Faizal Khan said the new UK-based recruits would bring further top level  experience into the mix, alongside established squad members such as Callum Harriott. 

“Coach Maximo giving first team call-ups to Bayli Spencer-Adams, Miguel Scarlett and Nathan  Moriah-Welsh highlights the coach’s willingness to give youth a chance in competitive  internationals,” said Khan. 

As the squad departed for the Dominican Republic, Cox urged the nation to unite behind the  Golden Jaguars as they look to begin their World Cup journey in style. 

“It’s a shame we couldn’t be in Guyana for the second game against the Bahamas,” he said. “It  would have been great to interact with the fans, but obviously, through coronavirus, that’s not  possible. We know that the fans will be there in spirit with us and we will look to make them proud  as we always do.” 

National footballer Garrett slides into business with Finish Line Express!

National footballer Jeremy Garrett has taken his positivity and energy that fans are accustomed to seeing on the field to launch his very own business. The 22-year-old’s delivery service was launched a week ago and has already come up for high praise from his customers thus far.

‘Finish Line Express’ was birthed through Garrett’s personal experience and frustration with having to wait unreasonably long hours to get food deliveries and he set about to remedy this malady not only for himself but for his fellow Guyanese. According to Jeremy, his courier service will deliver from ‘rope to soap’ and will not only be limited to food delivery.

Meanwhile on the field, Garrett has left his longtime club the Fruta Conquerors and will suit up for the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) in the new season. He has also completed his two-year Rehabilitation Science studies with Louisiana State University (LSU) Eunice and will be pushing ahead with a full scholarship to Chicago State University.

In an invited comment, Garrett stated; “First of all I must give praise and thanks to the Almighty for the strength and blessings to venture off into the business world. I would certainly give a special thanks to my parents and sister for the great support they are showing with this new venture. To my younger brother Jermaine, I just want to say thanks a lot for the energy and sacrifice you make daily to make this business grow. Thank you to all my friends who have been very supportive, to my brother Sunil Logan who sends me dinner every night so I can stay focused on the job. To Dixon, Ryan “Bom Bom” Hackett, Kelsey Benjamin and others, I say thanks to all of you guys for the great support in ensuring that this dream became a reality”.

Garrett’s business can be found on social media sites: Facebook and Instagram. Their contact numbers are 592-226-9114 and 592-638-8796.

Hackett & Benjamin heading to Canada for pre-season professional trials

Kelsey Benjamin and Ryan Hackett will head to Canada in the coming weeks to take part in pre-season trials with professional Canadian Premier League (CPL) outfit Valour FC, thanks to an opportunity brokered by former Canadian international Alex Bunbury’s ABSAA organisation.

Plaisance-born Bunbury made the announcement during Senior Men’s National Team training session at the Guyana Football Federation National Training Centre at Providence, where 21- year-olds midfielder Hackett and forward Benjamin are part of the domestic-based squad preparing for 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers next month.

“It means a lot,” Hackett said. “I would like to get a professional contract outside. Thank you to Mr. Bunbury and the Guyana Football Federation, who have helped me develop this far. I want to go out there and grab this opportunity.”

Benjamin, who scored the winner for Georgetown All Stars in the final of the GFF Bounce Back Classic in January, also thanked Mr. Bunbury and the Federation, expressing his determination to succeed. “The sky is the limit,” he said.
Professional side Valour had expressed a keen interest in assessing under-23 players from Guyana during their pre-season camp, expected to take place in April. Supported by the GFF, it is hoped this breakthrough opportunity will open the door to further trials for Guyanese players.

“My objective is to give these young players the opportunity to go to higher heights,” said Bunbury. “One of the great opportunities that we have been able to organise is to have them go to Canada and try out for a CPL franchise. I’m excited about it and I think the whole country should be excited about it.”
“They are both very talented and also very young. We know we have a lot of talented players. They just need to get into a professional environment. This will open up a lot of opportunities for other players. It’s going to say a lot about the talent that Guyana has.”

Earlier this month, Bunbury was pivotal in securing a full sports scholarship at Chicago State University for Golden Jaguars forward Nicholas McArthur.
“This is very important for our development,” said Golden Jaguars Head Coach Marcio Maximo. “We want to create opportunities for these players. It is very important to encourage them and to give them motivation. We need to put these players into competitive markets and give them the chance to shine.”

FIFA-approved Disciplinary Code handed over to GFF Committee

Guyana Football Federation (GFF) President Wayne Forde has presented the FIFA-approved Disciplinary Code to the newly-appointed Chairman of the GFF Disciplinary Committee, enabling the Committee to begin its work with a priority on resolving outstanding cases.

The new composition of the Committee was proposed by the GFF Executive Committee and approved by the GFF Congress in December 2020. It includes Chairman Eusi Anderson, who serves as General Counsel at CSM-DANCO, State Counsel Shawnette Austin and former Guyana Trades Union Congress Vice President Lancelot Baptiste.

The Congress voted to replace the former Disciplinary Committee following a long period of inactivity and a lack of communication that led to a backlog of outstanding disciplinary matters.

During a meeting with the new Chairman on Friday last, GFF President Wayne Forde underlined the urgent need to address and resolve the list of outstanding cases as soon as possible.

“It is vital that the new Disciplinary Committee moves swiftly to provide clarity on matters that have remained unresolved for far too long,” President Forde said. “We look forward to seeing progress on those issues as we work to enhance the governance and reputation of football. The Executive Committee has every confidence that the new, highly-qualified members of the Committee will act with integrity and professionalism in the interests of good governance.”

The GFF Disciplinary Committee is one of three independent judicial bodies within the framework of football governance, alongside the Ethics Committee and the Appeal Committee. It examines and passes judgement on all disciplinary matters relating to GFF members, affiliates, officials, players, clubs, intermediaries and match agents.

“I am humbled by this appointment as the Chairperson of the Disciplinary Committee of the Guyana Football Federation. I look forward to working with the football fraternity in Guyana, our partners in the Caribbean and our partners globally to improve the circumstances of football in Guyana,” Anderson said.

“Undoubtedly there will be challenges, undoubtedly there will be opportunities, but my resolve remains to bring the best of my skills, ability and time to bear in this new dispensation. I look forward to serving everyone in football and working with the local fraternity to build strong strategic partnerships for the overall improvement of football.”

GFF distances self from ‘Halendino Sports’ Trials

Following the announcement of an entity, ‘Halendino Sports’, that it would be hosting trials for young athletes in the disciplines of cricket, basketball and football, the Guyana Football Federation(GFF) has distanced itself from the event.

A release to the media read; “The Guyana Football Federation (GFF) takes note of the recent announcement by an entity called Halendino Sports, as covered in the Kaieteur News article “Halendino Sports to host trials” on January 14, 2021.”

The ‘Haledino Sports’ poster advertising trials for young athletes

“The GFF would like to make it clear to all members of the football community that Halendino Sports is not affiliated to the Federation and this activity has not been approved or sanctioned by the Federation. As such, no registered member of the Federation is authorised to participate in this activity”.

It further read; “Under the GFF Constitution, and in the interests of good governance, player safety and professional standards, GFF members are only authorised to participate in officially sanctioned events. Any participation in unsanctioned activities may result in punitive action, including suspension”.

The GFF also cautioned that at this time, any on field activity must be reviewed and approved by the National COVID-19 Task Force before permission is granted by the Federation.

They concluded; “GFF urges the football community to continue to follow and obey the COVID-19 regulations and protocols as ordered by the Government of Guyana to protect the health and wellbeing of the general populace during the pandemic”.