By Rawle Welch
Guyana’s ‘Golden Jaguars’ 1-1 draw against Trinidad and Tobago’s ‘Soca Warriors’ was another clear demonstration of the huge potential that resides in our athletes.
The result also meant that those charged with the responsibility of developing sport should treat it with the seriousness it deserves, while it also strengthens the claim by many for the relevant stakeholders to make it a priority on their investment index.
Coming hot on the heels of Guyana’s recent success in powerlifting, rugby, squash and regional cricket, the performance against T&T is ample evidence for the Government and Corporate Guyana to continue on their current path of support.
Recently, the major stakeholder in sport, the Government, has taken the lead to assist in its development, and even though there is the view that some level of partisanship does exist, the mere fact that the support is more substantial and it is getting to some of the disciplines that were previously neglected should be seen as a positive development.
While it must be noted that all sports cannot receive similar levels of funding, it would be encouraging to see those that present us with the best possible option of gaining international recognition be given adequate support altogether.
Sports such as boxing, football and athletics must be among the top five disciplines that should be deemed high priority on the national agenda and be given considerable funding, because these are the ones that we have done well in traditionally.
In order for us to do well on the international stage, a whole new approach must be taken, since it takes a lot of sacrifice, vision, commitment and most importantly extensive financial investment to reap the appropriate rewards.
As one Jamaican official stated recently, “it cannot be business as usual.”
Nearly all our Caribbean counterparts are seeing the need to promote sport within their respective territories. They must have calculated the benefits that could be derived for their economies from such investment. It is time that Guyana follows suit.
Sport right now has taken on new dimensions, it is at an unprecedented level and if we are to wait any longer, we might as well condition ourselves for mediocre results.
Some of those new dimensions include teams encamping for longer periods, as well as their being ready to undergo rigorous mental and physical preparations to combat the stress of battle.
Sport can no longer be classified as a casual activity, the new innovations associated with sport right now are mind-boggling and in some cases never before seen.
Teams are getting to unfamiliar venues much earlier to acclimatise and get adjusted to eliminate the odds, while cross training is a regular feature among teams and athletes.
For example, the English cricketers recently returned from a five-day top-secret bonding trip to Bavaria in Germany where they spent a few days near Nuremberg taking part in mental and physical challenges including boxing, hiking and abseiling.
At first glance, one could not think that the trip was all meant to prepare them for their upcoming Ashes series against Australia, but such preparations are among the new arsenal teams are now using to maintain dominance and Guyana will soon have to join them if success is to be achieved.
It therefore means that more money will have to be spent just for preparations and that will provide the litmus test for all the stakeholders.
Just one hour away by plane, T&T, shocked by their defeat to Guyana in the Regional T20 Competition, embarked on a similar camp to that of England and here is what Captain Darren Ganga had to say about it: “I know we are going for a hat-trick, but the important thing is to get in there and just do the job. I don’t want to pre-empt anything by saying we are going to win the title for sure. However, what I can say is that the boys are working extremely hard to be ready for the tournament.”
The players organised a gruelling two-day camp in Toco, which Ganga described as a tremendous success.
“The players organised a private camp in the hills of Toco and I must say we were able to achieve what we set out to do. Our trainer Ronald Rogers took us through a harsh trail, which meant climbing the hills and crossing the streams, which was really great. At the end of that gruelling event, we spent a wonderful evening together just bonding.”
Guyana’s failure to make a significant impact in sports, both regionally and internationally, has always been as a result of the scarcity of funds, but if the recent backing from the Government and the new addition of private entities to support sport is sincere then we could safely see the emergence of a new era.
Time holds the answer.
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