By Rawle Welch
The brag that has emanated from various quarters about the progress sport has made in Guyana and it being the vehicle for social and economic transformation among our youths has to be viewed as mere talk and nothing else when one considers the seriousness in which other countries within the Caribbean are treating it.
Just to emphasise its relevance and importance, Jamaica held a two-day conference at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel early last month where a regional think tank examined the economic potential of sport under the theme ‘The Business of Sport’ and it would be interesting to know whether Guyana sent representatives to that forum which had in attendance sport ministers of Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, St. Vincent & the Grenadines and a host of former world renowned athletes from the Caribbean, in addition to some of the most influential business executives, experts from the fields of academia and sport consultants.
The attendees discussed a wide range of topics related to how sport could be used as an economic driver for Caribbean economies.
They spoke on the role of education in developing sport as a business; how companies use sport to develop their brand; planning and execution of major events; packaging sport to attract financial support; media application in the promotion of sport; athlete management; managing intellectual property and the athletes’ perspectives.
The point here is if we’re to seriously alter the existing scenario in sport we simply have to embrace all the components that go along with success.
Guyanese athletes yearn for a career, but because many administrators in sport continue to exercise poor judgment as it relates to what is required to lift sport in Guyana beyond its current low status, they face severe consequences if the choice is to make it a career.
Local sport administrators persist in keeping sport at an amateur level, while the world is moving it to the next level and this could be seen with the move certain disciplines have made to adequately compensate ‘amateur’ athletes with substantial cash such as boxing has done.
AIBA, the governing body for amateur boxing decided a few years ago to reward boxers who make it to the ‘World Championship’ with cash and this was the right move, when it is considered how much a boxer needs to spend to attain the level of competitiveness to make it to the top.
In Guyana, there is little if any support for our athletes who continue to utilise their own resources to fulfil their dreams only to fall short due to the uncaring attitude of our administrators.
There are many stories to be told of shattered dreams due to this indifferent approach, while the slothful pace at which the powers that be operate is also unhelpful for the necessary advancement of sport.
The Conference in Jamaica was very significant, especially for Guyana since this country continues to lag behind most of the other territories within the region in sport administration and development.
What emanated out of that Conference could have assisted us in shaping our Policy for Sport Development, since so many persons of knowledge, both in the administrative and former top flight athletes capacities were there at that forum where a lot of information could have been sourced.
If it is that we failed to attend that symposium then we missed a great opportunity to learn from those regarded as the best in the region and must be considered an indictment on our Sport Administrators.
If it is that we had a representative there, then very shortly we must expect the information gathered to be filtering down to the respective management of all the disciplines.
But, to miss the chance to interact and listen to such outstanding athletes as T&T Olympian Ato Boldon, former world heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis, 400 metres champion Sanya Richards, NFL TV Steve Wyche, Miami Heat Event Manager Sherry Andre, representatives of Gatorade, Puma and Adidas and a cadre of University Professors examine ‘practical ways of how government policy can influence economic models for Caribbean countries as it relates to sport as a viable industry’ would be an unfortunate ignore.
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