North Pakaraima Tournament Kicks off in style

– FIFA Director witnesses tremendous talent

Thirteen male and nine female teams are in contention for championship honours as the North Pakaraima Football Tournament 2018 kicked off on Sunday in Kato Village, Region Eight.

This year’s tournament is historic since it is the first time that an official from Football Governing body FIFA is in attendance.

Director, Vernon Masengio Omba made good on his promise to the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs to visit Guyana during the competition to see firsthand the commitment made by the respective teams participating.

During remarks at the opening ceremony Omba commended efforts being made by the Ministry, more so, the commitment by Minister within the Ministry, Valerie Garrido-Lowe, towards the development of football in the hinterland.

“We are certainly moved by her love and passion for football and the personal sacrifice you have made in travelling great distances so you can play the game. You reached after walking about two to three days to get here that alone is to show how passionate you are for the game of football and I believe from now we will be behind you, behind the GFF and behind the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs”.

Omba is in Guyana witness the level of play at the grassroots level, challenges experienced and document same in an effort to help local teams receive further support from FIFA. He said he is returning to Zurich with a better understanding of the need to support Hinterland football.

Minister within the Ministry Valerie Garrido-Lowe, who is also the patron for Women’s Football in Guyana, expressed pleasure with the level of participation and commitment teams continue to show towards making the tournament a success.

The Minister said while investments were made towards football development in hinterland communities “Region Eight always was not supported enough; you travel two to three days to come and build this beautiful game and now, I am proud to say, that your Government, our Government, has delivered on our promise and for 2018, $1Million was allocated for the first time ever, for the North Pakaraima Football Tournament. And as Mr. Vernon said, FIFA is here to develop the beautiful game, you deserve a fair chance for support”.

The Minister emphasised the Ministry’s commitment towards the region’s football endeavours and amidst a loud applause, handed over the cheque to organisers.

Minister Garrido-Lowe also acknowledged the contributions it continues to receive from the Guyana Football Federation led by Wayne Forde. The Minister remarked that since GFF President, Wayne Forde, came into office the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs and GFF have formed a partnership with the aim of developing hinterland talent so that the national team can be truly reflective of what a national team should look like.

Meanwhile, Forde who accompanied the FIFA Director said: “the GFF has a mandate to develop football and the time is right, the time is now to make a meaningful contribution into the work that you have been doing over all these years”.

Chronicling his experience in the Pakaraimas, Forde said he has a greater appreciation for players following an adventurous journey from Paramakatoi to Kato after the vehicle in which his team was travelling broke down halfway into the journey leaving them to travel for four hours by foot through mountainous terrain.

Forde said the GFF remains committed to working in partnership with the Ministry to develop this beautiful game.

This is the second official hosting for the tournament which began some twelve years ago.

The teams participating are defending champions Itabac Male and Kanapang Female, Paramakatoi, Micobie/Campbelltown, Bamboo Creek, Chenapou, Kamana, Kanapang Male, Kopinang, Kurukubaru, Maikwak, Monkey Mountain, Tuseneng and host Kato.

Also present at the tournament’s opening were Regional Chairman, Bonaventure Fredericks, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs, Alfred King, and other officials from the GFF.

The tournament concludes next Sunday with the third-place playoff followed by the finals in both male and female competitions.