Manufacturer: Squadra Soccer
Source: Squadra Soccer
This is a special shirt to me.
It may sound petty or even pathetic, since we are talking about a piece of polyester after all, but collecting football shirts can in fact remind you that persistence and focusing on a goal will eventually lead to success.
It may not be the best-looking football jersey in the world, but when I first saw a picture of Guyana's national team wearing it, I knew I had to have it. Of course, like so many uniforms of small nations, it wasn't easily available to buy. The absence of a manufacturer logo and the small number of pictures I could find, made the research even more of a struggle.
My first inquiry was directed to the Guyana Football Federation. Despite most federations’ practice not to reply to any requests, the GFF responded within a couple of days. No shirts where available to buy from the federation, but the manufacturer "Squadra Soccer" could potentially help me, I was told. And indeed, Squadra Soccer told me that Guyana jerseys were for sale, but only the yellow home shirt. My object of desire, however, was only produced in a limited quantity and exclusively for Guyana's federation. I was back to square one…
Now I had to bring in the big guns: On Facebook I attempted to find the president of the GFF - and indeed with the help of a Guyanese man associated with the federation, I was able to find the profile of Mr. Forde, who eventually turned out to be his son of the same name. He was friendly and helpful and gave me the email address of the federation's General Secretary. After a long email explaining my desire to obtain this specific shirt, I quickly received a well-worded and cordial response: they would love to help me, but all the shirts were gone. Individual jerseys may be in possession of some players, though, he remarked. The next setback…
I contacted more than twenty players, in hopes that one of them might be willing to help. Many responses came: "I'd love to help, but I don't have it!", "So cool, that you are interested in our shirts, but I don't own one!".
This was, when I finally admitted defeat.
Then, on the same day, I received a message from Ian Greenwood, Technical Director of the GFF, whom I contacted a few weeks prior, and who ultimately gave me the crucial hint in the form of an email address from Squadra Soccer’s director of operations. An email was written, and an agreement was made: If I were able to get 25 people to pre-order a shirt, Squadra Soccer would exclusively produce those 25 jerseys. Only 24 hours later, this last hurdle was cleared and after a few weeks of waiting for the production to be finished, I am finally holding the shirt (or rather 14 of them) in my hands.
Why would anyone go to such lengths to get a football shirt from the national team of Guyana, you may ask?
Despite the obvious brilliance of the design, Guyana is a very interesting place too. Along with the two other former Guyana’s (now Suriname and French Guyana), the country represents a geographical peculiarity on the South American continent. As the only English-speaking state on the subcontinent, Guyanese people rather identify as a Caribbean country and are, along with Suriname and French Guyana, a member of the North American CONCACAF association, as opposed to their South American neighbors.
While not particularly successful in the past, the Guyanese nation team has accomplished their greatest success in 2019 when they managed to qualify for the CONCACAF Gold Cup for the first time, where they ultimately finished 3rd in their group, losing their matches against the US and Panama and drawing 1-1 against Trinidad & Tobago.
It’s loud and colorful and there’s a giant jaguar is slapped on the front of it – what’s not to like?
When I negotiated with manufacturer Squadra Soccer, I asked them to embroider the FA badge on the shirt. Alas, the final shirts now have sublimated badges and an embroidered SQ logo, that’s not present on the shirts worn by the team.
Nevertheless, I’m very pleased to finally own this magnificent piece of polyester. I'm even more happy about all the helpful and warm people from Guyana that helped me along my odyssey.