Discuss sports policy
By Michael Benjamin
The University of Guyana is the nation’s highest learning institution and every year it churns out hundreds of graduates with unbelievable academic accomplishments. However, the pundits are adamant that not much is being done to enhance the sports life of interested youths. They have said that the purpose of any learning institution worth its salt is to prepare the individuals for the challenges of life while fostering personal development, two variables that can be addressed
through involvement in sports.
Registrar of the University of Guyana, Vincent Alexander, is cognizant of such concerns and even as he acknowledges the merits, assures the students that the modalities are currently being addressed to transform the sports sector to a contemporary state.
Consequently, UG administrators are presently examining the contents of a Green Paper submitted by the University of Guyana Students’ Society (UGSS) to the Academic Board to fashion a sports policy that would serve as a tool for developing students into well rounded, civic minded citizens.
Mr. Alexander spoke with Kaieteur Sport at his Turkeyen office and expressed his views on this matter. He is adamant that the general perception towards sport will have to firstly undergo a metamorphosis if his administrators are to succeed in any transformation. “It is unfortunate that sports locally do not offer a basis for economic development and you will find that students would opt for their academic furtherance over sports excellence,” the Registrar opined. He further posited that the providence of such opportunities could very well cause more students to take advantage of sports as a supplementary to other academic activities. He also said that his administration is currently confined to a restrictive budget of approximately $6M, accumulated from a mandatory sports fee of $1000 per semester levied on all students of the University.
He blamed the over-dependency on that sum for the poor output of sport events and incentives. “That is why University organized sports activities are lacking in incentives, shortened, under-resourced, poorly marketed and poorly attended,” explained Mr. Alexander.
He said that the document now under consideration will examine strategies to deal with such anomalies and to ensure that the sports sector is financially sustainable.
The UG also hopes to form partnerships with the Government, private sector and other sports associations to achieve its objectives and one of the fundamental ploys would be to examine ways of achieving financial sustenance to address the sports calendar.
As such, administrators plan to apply robust tactics in cleverly designed marketing proposals while influencing tangible contributions from the corporate community in the form of event paraphernalia, sporting equipment and other relevant materials. “This would significantly reduce costs incurred by the administration for staging these events,” said Mr. Alexander.
The very students that are agitating for the employment of strategies will be required to bear some of the costs associated with the implementation of the initiatives. “Obviously, there will arise a need to increase the yearly sports fee to about $2000,” warned the registrar. He quickly pointed out that such implementations will require slight changes to the current social contracts. “The new arrangement could only be justified if a new contract evolved whereby students, as a result of witnessing improvements in the University’s sports amenities and culture, become willing to pay these increases.”
The absence of proper facilities and infrastructure is also a worrying factor and Mr. Alexander said that the policy document will address the rectification of such impediments while encouraging broader participation. “The patent lack of sports facilities, in particular, a sports field with a pavilion and gymnasium for weights and other indoor training is, perhaps, the greatest constraints to the enhancement of wider student participation in sports,” bemoaned the UG administrator.
He said that his executives will discuss counteracting strategies which include franchising or other Administration/Private Sector arrangement to have a fully equipped and staffed gym at the Turkeyen location. “This is a Green Paper which we wish to develop into a White Paper and ultimately, a policy document,” said Mr. Alexander.
The UG Registrar said that the academic board has recently established a sports committee comprising faculty staff and students to deal with the modalities for the establishment of the sports policy. He further said that this very group would be asked to monitor its implementation. “We are not procrastinating on this one,” pronounced Mr. Alexander, “We intend to have a refined document to present to the Academic Board by May next year,” he confidently pronounced.
This initiative should promote the UG on par with other territorial institutions like Jamaica which has distinguished itself as a strong athletic nation and has partnered with the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) to enhance its fortunes in this department.
Conversely, over in Barbados, the sports programme at Cave Hill offers a range of sports including athletics, water sports (sailing, scuba, windsurfing and swimming), football, cricket, volleyball, netball, lawn tennis and basketball. UWI Games are held every two years with all three campuses competing in several sports. The games are held on each campus on rotation. The Mona Campus is presently the reigning champions for these games.
The UG Registrar assures that his administrators are urgently addressing these concerns to refine and develop the current Green paper into a White Paper and subsequently, a policy document. “An ad hoc committee would be formed to hold consultations with stakeholders, including students of the UG, to expand on these proposals and present them for ratification very soon,” he confided.
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