By Rawle Welch
Eleven years after bad weather forced the cancellation of the National Schools Athletics Championships and four years after local athletes were promised a synthetic track would be realized in the near future, junior athletes were once again subjected to the disappointment of the premier schools’ athletic event being cancelled due to a waterlogged Camp Ayanganna ground.
Athletes from all across Guyana (14 Districts) travelled to the Capital Georgetown to showcase their talent and compete for bragging rights in what has undoubtedly become the biggest athletic championships in this country and one that is widely regarded as the bedrock for athletes development and the main highlight for spotting talent, especially those with the desire to go on and make athletics a career.
However, after one day of action, the flagship event of the Ministry of Education (MoE) and the Guyana Teachers Union (GTU) had to be cancelled following heavy overnight and morning showers that left the entire Camp Ayanganna facility inundated.
The disappointment is the fact that after four years of a promised all-purpose track it must be frustrating to the athletes to put in all the effort to qualify for junior athletics showpiece and be robbed the opportunity to exhibit their talent because of the inclement weather.
The ongoing delay in completing the synthetic facility at Leonora has ultimately robbed a few athletes of testing their ability against the very best in Guyana and this missed opportunity may never materialize again since some may be in their final year of competition at this level.
Hopefully the facility will be completed in time for next year’s event, but this could only happen if we as a nation believe that Sports and its development could offer many other alternatives to our youths who continue to deviate from social norms due to the absence of meaningful activities.
Guyana, just like Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados and other Caribbean territories, is flooded with naturally talented athletes, but until the administrators of Sport give it its rightful place on the list of priorities’ for national development, then the lament made by GTU President Mark Lyght, who urged that more emphasis to be placed on the welfare of our youths lest we lose them to the ills of society, could become a cruel, but honest forecast.
Our youths are crying out for attention and opportunities and while we have no control over Mother Nature, what we have control over is the provision of facilities that will allow for the continuation of events despite the inclement weather.
The completion of infrastructural projects to enhance sports development remains a big dilemma in this country and the Leonora facility is one such example with Contractor after Contractor having to be replaced due to a myriad of problems, while cost overruns continue to plague many projects.
This is the sixth time in the history of our national school athletics that bad weather forced its abandonment and unless weather of insurmountable proportions is experienced in the future then this should be the very last time that our young athletes have to endure the frustration of the championships being called off.
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