By Rawle Welch
By now, members of the history making national rugby team that captured both the NACRA 15’s and 7’s titles in the same year would have returned to their respective places of abode to resume normal lives after arriving back in Guyana as one unit last Friday.
Players such as Kevin McKenzie who resides in Australia, Isiejah Allen and Vallon Adams domiciled in the USA and Richard Staglon, Claudius Butts, Ronald Mayers and Peabo Hamilton who’re all based in Trinidad and Tobago have all departed.
These national heroes have now won the NACRA 7’s title for the seventh time in nine years, while they’ve also added the 15’s crown to their burgeoning collection in what must go down as the most phenomenal year in the history of the sport here in Guyana.
The achievements by this incredible bunch of Guyanese sportsmen, apart from being unmatched have mostly gone unnoticed and unrewarded over the period of sheer dominance in regional rugby and while the Guyana Rugby Football Union (both past and present) should share some of the blame, entities such as the Ministry of Sport (MoS), National Sports Commission (NSC) and the Government, three administrations with the responsibility and capability to recognize and reward such accomplishments, are still ostensibly reticent in offering tangible incentives to members of the team.
The team did not get to savor the opportunity of being in the presence of high ranking officials from the MoS, NSC and or Government, an occasion which would have been highly appreciated, but was greeted with a snub instead since no representative from any of the three entities were on hand to meet them on arrival at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport.
The treatment of those precious ambassadors, who continue to promote this country on an international scale for free, was simply uncaring and needs to be highlighted.
We’ve seen visiting sportsmen and women from other countries being afforded the comfort of exemption from going through all the obligatory procedures as an arriving passenger, but no such luxury was extended to those heroes as the media waited anxiously for their appearance in the Arrival lobby.
We are yet to read about any congratulatory message emanating from any of the above mentioned agencies or even the Opposition who too must show some amount of attentiveness and acquaintance with the achievements of all our outstanding athletes and teams.
It would have been so thoughtful for any of them to be present at the Airport to meet and greet those high achieving athletes and while correspondence about the team’s scheduled return might not have been disseminated to them directly, had they showed intent to get the information it probably would have helped moderate the general perception the team holds about many administrators.
Head Coach Theodore Henry even before being asked to describe the performance of the team, immediately expressed his disappointment about the visible absence of high ranking officials apart from the Union President and Secretary.
This team on the merit of its performances over the years deserves more respect than it is given and we all should hold our heads in shame for the shabby treatment that is continually being meted out to these outstanding athletes.
No other country would have done so and we don’t have to look too far to see how other sports entities and governments reward their athletes and teams after they would have performed outstandingly.
How much more evidence we need to see to appreciate what this team has done with the bare minimum of support from all of us.
This is a team that prepares locally against local competition and not much to choose from, but still leaves here and compete against opposition who benefits from far more support, destroys them over and over, but return to little or no recognition and the total absence of real incentives.
They promised to return with the trophies on both occasions this year and they kept their promise each time so it is now up to all those who made similar pledges to honour their end of the bargain.
They’ve qualified for the Pan Am Games in Canada and the IRB Hong Kong Sevens and many honestly feel that given the kind of support that is required they could very well be on the pitch at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Members of the business community should not wait to be approached; this team is a regional dynasty that is currently bursting at the seams to move beyond the region and the evidence is there to support this notion.
Guyana managed to draw with France, a country that was ranked in the top ten in the world at the time, so we see what could be achieved with the right assistance.
Give them what they rightfully deserve, not an uncaring attitude.
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