Calls for more emphasis on sports at school
By Sean Devers
Overnight rain and the late arrival of competitors and officials resulted an almost hour late
start but the delay failed to put a damper on the Opening Ceremony of the 54th edition of the Ministry of Education and Guyana Teachers Union (GTU) National School’s Cycling, Swimming and Track & Field Championships at the Camp Ayanganna ground yesterday.
The opening Ceremony was not short of pomp and splendor and got going with an impressive March Past in which most of the athletes exhibited Military precision as the ominous cloud cover over the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) ground changed to brilliant sunshine.
Yesterday was day two of the four-day Championships. Track and field events along with cycling were scheduled after the Opening Ceremony but due to wet condition of the ground the cycling was postponed. The opening day featured the Cycle Road race, the 10k Road Race and Swimming in a championship which is sponsored by Banks DIH-Malta Brand, Giftland Office Max, Courts and Gatorade.
Prime Minister Samuel Hinds took the March Past and was accompanied by Education Minister Priya Manickchand, President of the GTU Mark Lyght, Assistant Chief Education Officer Donna Chapman and Delma Nedd, Regional Chairman- Region four.
The 70-year-old Prime Minister told the gathering, which included ram-packed stands of school children and their parents, that this event comes at the end of various such sporting programmes at schools across the nation adding that today was an opportunity for the best to compete with each other.
Prime Minster Hinds challenged the Ministry and GTU to make the most of this National event and
produce unity among the young people of our nation.
“All who have taken part today are winners and I want to remind all of you how important exercise is for maintaining a healthy nation,” the Prime Minister reminded.
Hinds said the biggest share of the national budget was allocated to education and informed that funds have been released for the improvement of 500 sports grounds across Guyana.
GTU President Lyght said that this annual event is eagerly anticipated by every young boy and girl.
“Here is where stars like Cleveland Ford and Alika Morgan to name a few emerged. Out of meets like these Guyana is able to indentify talented and gifted youths for CARIFTA games and the Olympics,” Lyght added.
Lyght said he wants more emphasis to be placed on the welfare of the youths, who if not guided and channeled in the right direction can be lost to the ills of society. “The time has come for us as Guyanese to structure our athletics, swimming and cycling programmes to get the desired results,” the GTU Head opined.
“We have to plan earlier and put more resources into developing our young talent. Corporate society must play a role as well as Government to make this happen,” Lyght added.
He also called on the relevant authorities to employ more physical education teachers in every
primary and secondary school. He said that schools must also be provided with access to play grounds while educators, especially school administrators must change their views and culture about physical education.
Lyght ended by thanking the Teachers across Guyana for a job well done in bringing us to this day and lauded the GDF and the Police for the role they played.
Chapman gave a brief history of the Championships stating that the first such event was staged in 1959 in Georgetown.
“However in 1963, 1964, 1985, 1999 and 2003 the Championships were cancelled due to bad weather. Over the years these Championships were held in various parts of Guyana including Linden, Canje, Anna Regina, Blairmont, Albion, Skeldon, New Amsterdam, Uitvlugt and at the National Stadium for the last four years. Both the Ministry of Education and Guyana Teachers Union would like to have the 2015 Championships on the new synthetic track at Leonora. So watch out Region three; be ready for the invasion of 14 districts,” Chapman said to raucous applause from the competitors.
The Georgetown districts have dominated by winning 25 times, closely followed by the Upper
Demerara/Kwakwani, District 10 and this year 1,500 competitors are expected to be involved.
“Remember the slogans on your banners… ‘Pace is Power’… ‘Whatever the race we have the pace’. You can be Champions too! Represent your school, villages and towns with all that you have. You are the ambassadors of your schools and districts,” the Education Ministry Official told the participants.
Chapman told the students to reject cheating, lawlessness and to have respect for their opponents. “I would like to leave you with some words of the President of International Olympic Committee at the London Olympics 2012, with some adaptation.
“Your talent, your dedication and commitment brought you here. Now you have a chance to become true Champions. That honour is determined not by whether you win, but by how you compete. Character counts far more medals”.
“Competitors, this is your opportunity to make an impact. This is your chance to inspire this nation and generations to come,” added.
She urged all education districts, regional democratic councils, parents, teachers and students to recognize sports more particularly Physical Education as an integral part of the school’s curriculum.
“It therefore means that we should never trivialize sports. We should recognize the need for more funding. Evidently education districts must ensure that Physical Education and Sports is a part of their Regional Strategic Plan which should reflect the training needs of teachers and coaches and also the procurement of equipment,” Chapman continued.
“Guyana will never produce the likes of Usain Bolt if we do not start at the school level using the appropriate equipment. We would like a large number of our competitors to gain overseas scholarships. I also sincerely hope that the University of Guyana will develop a degree programme in Physical Education and Sports,” Chapman stressed.
Music was provided by the North Ruimveldt Multi Steel Band, while female students from Lodge Secondary school were involved in an entertaining dance display. Travis Belgrave of defending Champs North Georgetown district said the games Oaths, while three of his team mates lit the torch.
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