By Elroy StephneyFOOTBALL fans are still passionate and devoted to the sport on the Essequibo coast. Despite this however, placing the ball within the nets has been quite a herculean task for the administrators.President of the Essequibo Football Association,Compton HaynesPreviously, very little was done to sustain the development of the sport either through school competitions, systematic coaching or having adequate infrastructural facilities,so as to create a stimulating environment.I vividly recalled the golden moments during the mid-80s and 90s when the game reigned supreme in the Region. Quite a number of clubs became popular and captivated the imagination of the public.Too close to call were the strength and charisma of Scramblers and Queenstown United Football clubs,since they both were skillful teams. I even remember witnessing the wizardry of Joseph Livan, Dexter Stephney, Compton Haynes, Ken Hercules and Albert Belfield among others who had Ronaldo- like status when they were on top of their game.The clubs then were also continuously engaged in games and functioned efficiently. It was during the 2000s and beyond though that the sport began to wane as the Essequibo Football Association (EBA) became dormant, if not decimated beyond recognition.It was only in 2014 that there was an attempt to resuscitate the Association with the installation of an Interim Management Committee (IMC) under the stewardship of Mr. Walter Joseph.Former President of the Guyana Football Federation (GFF) Mr. Christopher Matthias was instrumental in this regard and there was some interest shown once again. Subsequently,a fully constituted body was formed in 2016 and elected former Scramblers’ left wing defender and Coach Mr. Compton Haynes as President.The Association once again became a constituted member of the GFF, a position they had relinquished due to their inactivity. Upon his elevation to the post and given his commitment and technical expertise, Mr. Haynes has been a tower of strength in having the sport resurrected beyond the sidelines.Competitive football is now ongoing through competitions at various levels as the ball weavers now enjoy some degree of hope and satisfaction while playing.A visit to any of the venues,either the Anna Regina Community Centre Ground or along the Coast line leading to Charity in the North or Queenstown to the South, one would be captivated by the enthusiasm and skills on display.This is indeed quite an encouraging prospect since I am convinced of the talent which exists in Essequibo given my observation and even intimate interaction with a wide cross section of the community based clubsI have also noted that coaching is being done at these venues in the afternoons and this is a welcome development.Commendations must therefore be extended to the Essequibo Football Association for their proactive approach since there was an element of despair that previously stymied the sport within the Region.In fact,teams from the interior are now being integrated; a distant thought which seemed beyond the comprehension of previous Administrators.Such vision is responsible for the renewed interest in football and this is due mainly to the astuteness of Mr. Haynes’ leadership and his keen focus on capacity building within the clubs.His approach has been quite resolute in trying to encourage various stakeholders including the business community and schools to remain active in the sport.Only recently, a quantity of equipment was donated by the GFF through its President Mr. Wayne Forde during his visit to the Region.Indeed,I can only view this as a positive correlation between the two bodies and for football in Essequibo as I envisage the outcome to produce national players and even Coaches and Referees.I am proud to mention Mr. Sherwin Moore who is now a national and international Referee and who has his roots in Essequibo.Those in the Region have been impressive as well during local matches and from all indication they are keen to perform at the next level too.I was also informed that four Under- 17 players were called to trials in a bid for national selection. The signals therefore are encouraging. Notwithstanding the continued challenges though and while not many goals have been scored thus far, the net is becoming increasingly vulnerable for the Essequibo Football Association to score in a big way as I am optimistic they will and endure beyond ninety minutes of success.