Present quagmire calls for exclusion of certain Sport Administrators
By Rawle Welch
Notwithstanding the salient points that Director of Sport Neil Kumar outlined in his ‘A Red Letter Day’ article that appeared in the Sunday Chronicle of August 12, the longstanding politician and sports official must know that Government has to take most of the blame for the current state of affairs as it relates to this country’s standing in the sports realm.
The Director must understand that the provision of a few facilities that are clearly not world class, even when compared to our regional counterparts, is woefully insufficient for the development of sports and our athletes, and rather what is imperative is a robust National Policy that receives the backing of all the relevant stakeholders.
Some of the points the Director highlighted such as the scant regard for Government’s input by some, if they are proven accurate, then the offending organisations that he alluded to should not escape harsh criticisms for their displays of disrespect, since meeting with the Government because of its position as being one of the acknowledged major stakeholders in the development of sports must be an unconditional requirement.
Despite its status, however, Government should not see itself as having the right to impose its will on the majority consensus since it could spell disaster and even spur non-cooperation among stakeholders.
In nearly every story of success, the essential role of Government was pivotal for the eventual outcome, whether it be the provision of facilities, funds or even through bi-lateral agreements for the exchange of expertise such as coaches, consultants etc.
So, obviously, the absence of a working relationship between the Government and National Sport Associations / Federations and the Guyana Olympic Association (GOA) as stated by Kumar, is frustrating the efforts of our athletes and their development, and this act of silliness must not be allowed to continue.
Every country has its own problems and we are no different, but unlike us, when it comes to attaining consensus for the national good it must be noted that a sense of maturity and patriotism takes centre stage ahead of pettiness and partisanship, dissimilar to what obtains in many instances here in Guyana.
In order for sports in Guyana to develop, there must be a clear cut Policy that involves all the important stakeholders with equal voices and not one that is guided by political leanings.
The Director urged that Government be included in an organized way to ensure that our athletes are thoroughly prepared to medal at the highest level and that is the right call, but how could such a plea be made when our athletes struggle to maximize use of the few worthy facilities that we have.
There are numerous examples of our athletes being unable to properly prepare due to the lack of permission to use the ‘world-class’ facilities, so when the Director pleads for inclusion, he must also know that one important aspect of preparations is getting the use of the best equipment and facilities.
The national rugby squad was given little use of the National Stadium, except for weekends, and clearly that was inadequate, due to the fact that the National Park has been in an unplayable state for more than two months owing to the inclement weather.
The squad has been preparing to participate in the NAWIRA Championships, where they are the multiple times champions, as well as the Rugby World Cup Qualifiers in Canada later this month.
These two tournaments are world class events, but the teams’ (Men and Women) preparations have been severely hampered by the poor conditions at the National Park.
Then there is the case of the suspension of playing activities at the Cliff Anderson Sports Hall to facilitate the staging of a Science Fair, at the expense of the national table tennis squad.
These are just two illustrations of our athletes not being afforded an enabling environment to perform at their optimum and this scenario plainly contradicts the picture that is being painted.
Apportioning blame will not solve the many problems that beset this nation’s sports, but rather there is need for a National Forum, something similar to what was ordered when Guyana’s Golden Jaguars booted Trinidad and Tobago’s ‘Soca Warriors’ out of the World Cup not so long ago.
That defeat was so bitter that a national discussion was the only option to plot the way forward after the Caribbean powerhouse, who had benefitted from a substantial infusion of funding from the Government, succumbed to a team that did not enjoy even a quarter of their funding from its Government.
We have to sit and discuss seriously the entire sports chart and come up with comprehensive solutions to plug the gaping holes that have enveloped the sports fraternity.
Any solution must involve the resuscitation of sports in schools and that must be mandatory and not piecemeal with sizeable funding for its development, while financial support for prospective Olympians ought to be part of the Policy because it allows them to train and not study how they will earn to survive.
Additionally, the current set of sport administrators have not performed, they lack the necessary acumen to take us out of the present quagmire, and due to this deficiency, a strong case has emerged for their exclusion.