By Rawle Welch
Recently, two very renowned Guyanese sport administrators, one current and one former made similar pronouncements at different occasions which to my mind could not be merely coincidental, but rather reality.
First of all, I was out of the country and only returned recently and upon my arrival I was stricken with the (red eye bug) which temporarily affected my ability to catch up with the news that was offered in my brief absence so I’m now making a fervent attempt to update myself.
The two Guyanese I’m referring to are: President of the Guyana Football Federation (GFF) Colin Klass and former Chief Executive Officer of the West Indies Cricket Board Stephen Camacho, both of whom possess many years of experience at the administrative level in sports.
Klass speaking at the GFF’s Annual General Meeting at Ocean View a couple of weeks ago said that the absence of a proper sports programme in schools is probably the main contributing factor for the decline in the level of ability of our sportsmen and sportswomen as compared to those of yesteryear, while Camacho echoed similar sentiments at the Georgetown Cricket Association Awards Ceremony which was held at the GCC Pavilion.
To take a few quotes from the Stabroek News dated Sunday, May 4, Klass noted that “the inaccessibility to facilities, the lack of sponsorship and the absence of football and sports in schools were some of the things which were noticeably hampering the development of football in several associations.
I hope the re-establishment of sports on the curriculum in schools would soon become a reality. If not, the development of football and sports will always be trying to catch up with the rest of the region.”
Camacho in his remarks likened cricket to a pyramid stating that, “the foundation, in particular the schools and clubs, had weakened and was now under threat with grave consequences for the future. A lack of direction, little or no money or facilities have led to a waning of interest in the primary schools, not only in Guyana, but the West Indies. The clubs, so vital a link between schools’ cricket and the game at the first class level, are also largely in decline. The major factors being uninspiring leadership, failing finances, reduced facilities and diminishing membership.”
Klass, who delivered a hard hitting presentation, went even further when he said that the development of sports requires a national effort and that fence sitting is no longer a viable tactic, but rather one that is nonsensical and obstructive towards progress in sports.
I’ve always advocated that unless the Ministry of Education sees the need to lead the way in getting sports effectively back on the school curriculum, the current situation may never be reversed.
I’ve had conversations with many teachers on the same subject and their unanimous response has always been that securing time-off to accompany students to sporting activities has proven to be very difficult to obtain.
Sometime last year, Health Minister Leslie Ramsammy pleaded with those in the Education Sector to ensure that sports become an integral component of their curriculum because of its benefits.
That is a clear indication that sports and physical exercise had been relegated to something optional and not necessarily vital to their system.
Until, the relevant Minister addresses the issue forcefully and his instructions are more decisive, the aim to get an effective sports programme back in schools may not occur too soon.
As the GFF President rightfully put it,” there are serious consequences for our inaction.”
There must be a more vibrant and visible collaborative partnership between the two major stakeholders that is the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Sports to stop the current trend.
These two important entities hold the power to implement procedures that could place greater emphasis on sports in schools, but there must be an exercise of will to do so meaning that whatever programmes are devised, must be all inclusive, giving no reprieve to any education official or student who may not feel inclined to participate.
This is the case at one of our premier secondary institutions where it is mandatory for every pupil to participate in sports with no exemptions, perhaps only on the recommendation of a medical expert.
The time for blame and comparison is over, let us just recognise the observations made by those two prominent sport administrators and address the situation now.
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