Georgetown, Guyana – (February 8, 2019) Minister of State, Mr. Joseph Harmon, today, signed two Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) with the Guyana Football Federation (GFF) and the Guyana Hockey Board, which will pave the way for the construction of two state-of-the-art sporting facilities behind Durban Park.

The Government of Guyana has given both entities a lease for the duration of 25 years and has mandated that the facilities be opened for public use.

Minister Harmon said that the signing is a defining moment, and the beginning of a turning point, in the availability of high-quality sporting infrastructure for Guyana’s young sportsmen and women, particularly those in and around Georgetown. Referring to the GFF, the Minister said that the MoU stemmed from a meeting between President David Granger and President of FIFA, Mr. Gianni Infantino.

“Last year, the President of FIFA visited and he met with President David Granger and the President of FIFA made a commitment to help Guyana to achieve certain goals as it relates to football. At that point, President Granger committed to ensuring that what is needed at the level of the government will be done. So this collaboration is testimony to that commitment. We are keeping our bargain this morning. This activity of declaring that area for Sports not only benefits the GFF but in our negotiations, we insisted that the public has access to these facilities that the GFF would maintain. I believe that the infrastructure for these two sports has been an inhibitor in allowing for our players to achieve success and so I really want to see this facility utilised for the benefit for our young men and women and we can see an incremental increase in the number of people who play these sports and their successes,” he said.

President of the GFF, Mr. Wayne Forde echoed similar sentiments noting that the signing marks a huge milestone for football in Guyana and is an important moment for the future of every young boy and girl who dreams of playing the game at the highest level.

“On behalf of the GFF, we thank the Government and particularly President David Granger for his steadfast commitment to sports in Guyana. This particular project has been in the works for some time. Thanks to the vision of the Government, we now have the opportunity for a ground-breaking, game-changing infrastructural project for football. Football is finally making meaningful progress and so this is truly a proud moment for the football family and all of Guyana,” he said.

Mr. Forde noted that the Durban Park Football Complex Project will house an international quality, full size pitch, two mini pitches and a new headquarters for the organisation. The mini pitches will be fully accessible to the public.

“Without infrastructure we cannot develop our players, it is as simple as that. We cannot improve the standard; we cannot compete at the highest level of the game. This Project will help Guyana to increase participation in football, spot talent in the infancy stages, increase player population, increase quality of our football, improve the image of the sport, enhance community cohesion and improve the health and wellbeing of our communities,” the President of the GFF said.

Meanwhile, as the MoU signing with the Guyana Hockey Board concluded, Mr. Philip Fernandes said that the entity has been trying for years to acquire a home for the sport in the city.

“This is an important moment for us and we are very appreciative of the Government recognising this as a need and making it a priority. We see this as a very important step in taking Guyana forward in the sport. The other countries in the Region have artificial surfaces for players to practice; however, we have to play on grass and so this presents us with the opportunity to put full, artificial grass in our facility to enable our young people not only to train in conditions in which they need to compete, but to also invite overseas teams to come and play here,” he said.

Mr. Fernandes said too that the facility will ensure that the game is more accessible to more young people, especially those from unprivileged communities, and will foster more training programmes.

Minister Harmon agreed, noting that he desires to see more Guyanese becoming involved in the game, which, he said, could be popularised and diversified.

‘You have the Government’s support to promote the sport. Despite our limitations, we have done well in this sport in Guyana and further afield. So this is an important day and I hope when we look back a few years from now, we can be proud of ourselves,” Minister Harmon said.

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