Mar 10, 2015 Sports
By Rawle Welch
Unquestionably the most successful and dominant team in local sports, the national rugby squad, used another opportunity – this time in front of home fans – to forcefully underline that status with another compelling performance against Barbados to start the defence of its NACRA 15s title on a positive note.
Commonly referred to as the ‘Green Machine’, the national ‘ruggers’, who have undeniably become sort of a dynasty within the NACRA region, especially in the 7s format, hammered the Bajans through a combination of its trademark speed and fitness which the visitors had no answer for.
This cadre of sportsmen, despite their unrivalled success, has not enjoyed the kind of accolades that is usually bestowed upon teams or athletes with similar outstanding achievements.
Last Saturday had in attendance high-ranking members of the Government, including Head of State President Donald Ramotar, Prime Minister Samuel Hinds, Finance Minister Dr. Ashni Singh, Sport Minister Dr. Frank Anthony and Director of Sport Neil Kumar as well as Guyana Olympic Association (GOA) President K.A. Juman-Yassin, and a few executives from the corporate community.
One would think that the mere presence of those officials would immediately translate into unmitigated support for the national icons, but we all know of the consistent lament of the Guyana Rugby Football Union about the scarcity of funds to travel to participate in tournaments, and its inability to arrange warm-up games against higher ranked teams than those in the Caribbean.
You just have to go back to the first press briefing held to introduce the new Technical Director Angus Thomson, who like so many before him, also spoke about the importance of playing against higher levels of competition if we’re to do well on the international stage.
This has been a worn-out observation pronounced on for so many years, but this team seems undaunted by the numerous setbacks and the lack of promotion about its overwhelming success, and still continues to advertise Guyana for free, while increasing its trophies in what has become a burgeoning cabinet.
One would have expected the government to bear the brunt of the funding to ensure that this team gets all the necessary preparation ahead of participating at the highest level, but this has not been the case. Instead, the support has been piecemeal, catering for a share of the funding just to get to competition and nothing for warm-up games.
This state of affairs cannot continue, unless we are resigned to just beating up the mediocre opposition within the Caribbean.
Even before you get to the national grid, there is no support from the Government or a large percentage of the business community, and had it not been for a few, one can only wonder where these outstanding athletes would have been or even the sport.
For the umpteenth time, the only way the corporate community will feel inspired to come on board in any significant way is when they see the Government leading the way. No other entity has the kind of resources at its disposal like the Government, and once again, the absence of a well-defined Sports Policy could be blamed for such neglect.
Such a document, aided by the input of pertinent stakeholders, no doubt would have catered for such exceptional accomplishments by our ‘ruggers’, or any other team or athletes of note, both in terms of financial and developmental support.
What is extremely disheartening is the fact that at the end of such a memorable run, quite a large percentage of those players would have served this country with distinction, but have very little to show for it. Not many countries treat its sons and daughters who have achieved such stardom with such disdain.
We have to do much better than this; it is totally unacceptable and the hypocrisy that is displayed is completely disgraceful.
The opposition should not be spared as well, they have missed several glorious opportunities to separate themselves from the actors in Government, they too have failed to show the care and attention to this team, and no excuse could be presented to explain their absence when the team returned with the titles or their no-show at the just concluded clash against Barbados.
Their behaviour mirrors that of the Government and their deeds have evoked fears of sports being left in the same comatose state that it currently finds itself.
The Opposition must see themselves as major stakeholders in the development of this country and its citizens, and for them not to utter commendations on the achievements of these outstanding athletes is a worrying posture.
This team is simply amazing; they have been subjected to every unhelpful situation possible, but they somehow still seem to thrive. It is just unbelievable.
They train in atrocious conditions; they run through the National Park gates from work to attend practice sessions due to the absence of time-off; they arrive in Guyana from various overseas locations without adequate compensation for time and family, and yet they go out on the field and make us proud.
Most of them will depart here shortly to participate at the Hong Kong International Sevens, and leave their respective families way short of adequate financial support, while personal rewards for their sacrifices may be woefully short of satisfactory, but yet they put those shortcomings aside and play with the hearts of lions. They are truly an amazing bunch of athletes.
What more could we ask for? As someone said, it may be blood.
Meanwhile, Guyana jumped five places in the world standings to be now at #44.
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