Dec 09, 2008 Sports
By Rawle Welch
Fewer than seven months remain before the staging of the inaugural Caribbean Games, yet except for an earlier release by the Sports Ministry, no other evidence has emerged to indicate that Guyana will be part of this history making event.
This contention is based on the fact that since that release, nothing else has been heard of from any of the relevant associations, GOA, Ministry or any other source regarding our participation.
The Games specifically organised to provide a platform for the region’s elite athletes to showcase their talent, will run from July 13-19 in Trinidad and Tobago (T&T) with tennis, track and field, boxing, volleyball (beach and indoor) and netball chosen as the disciplines to be competed.
Sponsored by the T&T Government to the tune of US$5.66 million, the cream of the Caribbean elite athletes, are expected to be on show and it is anticipated to be of a high standard comparable to those witnessed internationally.
Let us look at the scenario and see if Guyana can first qualify to participate in some of the disciplines and secondly see if we have athletes with the quality to make a mark at the inaugural Games.
Remember, the whole concept of the Games is to expose fans in the region to the best athletes in the Caribbean and to serve as motivation for young athletes to strive to meet international standards.
Guyana has been plagued by the lack of development in sports generally; all five disciplines short-listed would have seen little if any development recently which immediately places us at a disadvantage.
First of all, countries have to meet qualifying standards in the various disciplines to even compete, so sports like volleyball, netball and tennis are sure non-starters for us unless we are blessed with wild cards, while athletics despite enjoying our largest participation in terms of numbers at the last Olympics is still way short of elite material. Boxing seems to be our strongest hope of qualification, but once again do we have elite boxers to stamp their authority at such level.
A peek at the individual disciplines could reveal whether we will be able to feature as serious contenders or attend the Games merely because of being a CARICOM state.
Athletics – Among the local candidates is sprinter Rawle Greene, who has campaigned a lot in the Twin Island Republic this year, but with the elite status a definite prerequisite, his chances of doing well seems slim.
This brings us to two others, distance runners Cleveland Forde and Alika Morgan, they would appear to have the best probability of gaining podium positions with their consistent strong showings against regional opposition, but unlike Guyana where adequate preparation is minimal due to lack of foresight from administrators, it would not be surprising to see our Caribbean counterparts produce athletes to stop their dominance.
Netball – This sport has suffered a blackout of some sorts with little if any activity witnessed throughout the year added to the fact that we’ve not attended a single regional event for sometime, which makes it difficult for us to do well at the Games.
Volleyball – Even though we’ve been a bit unlucky in this regard, having been placed in the South American Bloc where the standard of play is way above ours and the prohibitive cost to attend tournaments has affected our participation.
The Guyana Volleyball Federation has not done enough to expose our players either locally or regionally and this state of affairs has created a decline in activity in the sport. With the Games’ organisers using a quota system, Guyana could find it difficult to make the cut.
Tennis – Despite a few attempts by the Administration to get the ball rolling in this sport, a lack of facilities has been the main bugbear and if we do participate it will be just for that sake.
Boxing – This sport under the current administration has undoubtedly made some amount of progress when compared with a few years back; they’ve done all in their power to organise regular tournaments, but again insufficient international exposure and inadequate governmental support have kept the quality and ability of our boxers below the desired level.
These Games could provide the best indicators as to whether we have been pursuing the right course as it relates to sports development. The next five to six months may very well give us the answer.
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