In our international perspective this week, we examine the need for greater integration of sports between members of the Diaspora and local sporting organisations.
Recently, a Guyanese team (GFF All Stars) undertook a football match in England. Comprising the squad were some eight persons drawn from the Guyanese community in England.
Among the players was the son of cricketing great, Clive Hubert Lloyd. The icon’s son had a few seasons ago earned selection in the local national team.
Guyana’s female football team has gained the sobriquet, the Lady Jaguars. This team is comprised mainly of overseas-based and overseas-resident Guyanese.
A number of the athletes that have represented Guyana at international games are persons who were born overseas and are the offspring of nationals, thus making them Guyanese.
There is great potential within the Diaspora, but yet there is no deliberate policy to encourage greater participation of members of the Diaspora into national sporting and cultural championships. In cricket, for example, there should be some competitions organised in which invitational teams comprising Guyanese in New York, London, Toronto and Florida should participate, since there is a wealth of talent out there which can help lift the standards of local cricket while integrating further the Diaspora with Guyanese back home.
Each year, there are at least two major pageants held locally, which attract a number of beautiful and talented young ladies.
But there are also many stunning and highly talented Guyanese girls living in North America and Europe who should be encouraged to participate in these pageants, so that when Guyana sends its representatives to these pageants, we are choosing from a pool after a process that involves the widest possible participation.
One of the difficulties of ensuring this integration is the distance that members of the Diaspora would have to travel to be part of national competitions. But once early and advance notice is given, then those persons overseas would have sufficient time to make the necessary arrangements to come to Guyana, so as to vie for national honours.
This is where the Ministry of Sport comes in. That ministry should discuss with all the major sporting associations, the dates for their major competitions and should create a website and have these dates posted.
It should encourage these associations to set their competition dates well in advance so that all those persons overseas who may be interested can come to Guyana to take part. This will raise the standard of local competition and ensure that the best represents Guyana.
Since there are likely to be scheduling problems, it is important that at the beginning of each year, the Ministry of Sport knows what are the various competitions to be held in each discipline and the tentative dates for these competitions and pageants. Through the newspapers with an overseas readership, this information can be made available so that the Guyanese Diaspora can participate if they so wish.
There is another important reason why such integration is necessary. Those who have had the experience of living in Guyana and who have migrated, still have emotional and physical ties to Guyana. But a whole new generation is emerging within the Diaspora.
They are the children and grandchildren of Guyanese immigrants, and they have had little or no attachment to Guyana. Within the next ten years, these persons who are descendants of Guyanese, but have not ever lived or for that matter ever visited Guyana, are going to outnumber those who migrated from these shores.
Unless therefore, a way can be found to create greater links between these persons and Guyana, we may well end up with a situation where these persons would in time have little or no attachment to Guyana. And considering the economic value of remittances from the Diaspora, we can very well over the next ten years see a decline in the level of these remittances.
Without these resources the Guyanese economy is going to shrivel. We should therefore act now to integrate the Diaspora into our society and economy. Through sports we can begin this process.
The Lady Jaguars has shown how it can be done. Whether the sports ministry has what it takes to do the same, is not certain.
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