May 31, 2013 Sports Comments Off on Support for rugby should be more comprehensive
By Rawle Welch
Even after winning six consecutive NACRA 7’s titles and being crowned Southern Caribbean 15’s champions last year, the maltreatment repeatedly inflicted on the national rugby squad has reached the point where anything short of full condemnation must be interpreted as hypocritical.
How can these dedicated national athletes, many of who have to journey from work daily to practice sessions at the National Park be treated in a manner totally not in correspondence with their outstanding achievements?
This bunch of high achievers has had to endure for a number of years, inadequate funding, under marketing (even in spite of consecutive regional titles), administrative ineptness and more importantly, below-par preparations.
In spite of all of these, the teams have gone to competitions and beat sides whose funding in many instances is double and triple times theirs, while little if any recognition is given in return.
After defeating Barbados in a close and fascinating encounter, having to recover from a terrible first half beating to dominate the final period en route to reaffirming its grip over the Bajans of late, the squad travelled to Trinidad and Tobago to take on their national team for the right to engage USA North.
However, it must be told that the team’s preparations was severely hampered by the persistent inclement weather which left the usual venue around 75% waterlogged and difficult for the players to do any sort of real practice.
It therefore begs the question, how could the team not be afforded the opportunity to prepare on a proper ground (National Stadium), especially since the T&T engagement is of regional and international importance and the best possible facility should have been made available to them.
Who is to blame is not exactly known, but what is known is that there have been instances in the past when the management (GRFU) failed to ask for the use of the Stadium over a prolonged period despite experiencing similar conditions heading into major tournaments, while it is also known that there were times when national teams were given the ‘royal run around’ when soliciting the use of the facility.
Many of the players were afraid to go full throttle in fear of suffering long term injuries due to the slippery conditions and in all fairness to Head Coach Theodore Henry, he understood the reality and urged them to be extremely careful for fear of travelling to T&T with a weakened squad.
The National Stadium would have been the ideal place for the team to practice and while the aim is not to cast blame on any particular individual or organisation, the new executive must be mindful of the letdowns of the past and correct them forthwith.
Director of Sport Neil Kumar had promised at a press briefing early this month his Commission and the Ministry of Sport clear-cut support for the team and sport so it is hoped that that pledge is not restricted tax waivers, but is far more comprehensive than seen in the past.
It should include unrestricted access to the Stadium whenever the National Park becomes unplayable, especially when the team is preparing for international tournaments and adequate funding for international friendlies, among others.
Guyana plays T&T tomorrow so let’s hope that the result is the same as last year when we won so that we could return home to commence preparations for an even bigger assignment.
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