A healthy and vibrant sporting environment has the potential to breed a successful and proactive society. However, it is quite the opposite in Essequibo since the institutional structures have dramatically collapsed and have been reduced to merely skeletons. Realistically sports in Essequibo have been on the losing end in most of the disciplines for over the past two decades. This is totally unacceptable especially in an environment that is becoming increasingly vulnerable to the social ills of society including suicide, alcohol and drug abuse, school drop-outs, teenage pregnancy and child labour.
In fact, Essequibo has achieved the record for having the highest suicide rate in the country, while drug and alcohol consumption has been rampant. When this sordid scenario is juxtaposed to the victims, the evidence is clear that the youths are the dominant group. I have repeatedly highlighted in previous letters the disintegration of sporting clubs, most of which have been relegated from being clubs to teams since they no longer consist of executive members, have team meetings, there is little respect for any constitution, while many players of various sporting disciplines are just openly disrespectful against authority.
This was clearly evident recently when a senior local cricketer in the presence of the sponsor and executive members of a local Board was seen consuming alcohol on the ground before a vital match. Not surprisingly the game was continuously disrupted and it ended without a pronounced winner due to the unruly conduct of this individual along with other players who displayed equally disgusting behavior.
In another scenario recently as well, a local football team vehemently refused to comply with the Referee’s decision to play extra time after the game was drawn. Instead the subjective team insisted that penalty kicks should have decided the outcome. The Referee remained firm in his decision resulting in the disgraced team abandoning the game. In essence, it is these types of behavior that have created ungracious monsters of surmountable proportions in Essequibo.
Additionally, the lack of adequate facilities and an equipped sporting department remain the recurring decimals of despair for the development of sports in the Region.
Imagine our swimmers cannot strive because there are no swimming pools; footballers are starved for competition, formal coaching, subvention from GFF, strong representation for players to be considered for national selection. The fans are even more disappointed too that in almost twenty years the highly anticipated Kashif and Shanghai tournament never found its feet in Essequibo. I am also in sympathy with our budding table-tennis players, volleyballers especially those from the interior, our toiling distance runners and sprinters, basketballers and even our robust boxers. These athletes simply yearn for a better life in sports and the new administration must heed the call to revive, stimulate, integrate and advance sports in the region to the level of structural admissibility.
While cricket has seen the glimpse of the light of day with the admirable rise of Ransford Beaton, Kevon Boodie’s record double hundred along with the skills of Ricardo Adams whom I believe is an invaluable 20/20 player and Anthony Adams, all of whom continues to be proud products of Essequibo. Notwithstanding their exploits though, the Essequibo Cricket Board remains a sleeping giant, over-doused perhaps given the current state of affairs. Only one major competition the ECB has secured for the entire year (Busta tournament), there have been no statutory meetings, no coaching (do the ECB Coaches still work?), no cricket development programmes which Mr. Alvin Johnson as Head of the CDC so eloquently had vowed to deliver. Interestingly, the Pomeroon Cricket Committee which is headed by Mr. Fizul Bacchus is dormant since no competitions were held for the past eight months, yet they have undertaken to debar cricket from being played at the Charity Community Ground which was used by the North Essequibo Cricket Committee to host matches (two of the teams are from Charity/Pomeroon). This is the insensitivity of the persons that administer cricket in Essequibo. A team from Florida is touring Guyana and they would have requested the use of the ECB Hostel. Frustratingly, not for the first time the cricketers were denied the use of the facility. The Hostel though has a caretaker. Just when would there be some sanity emanating from the ECB?
Indeed it will take quite a monstrous and collective effort to transform sports in the region, especially with the mind-set and even ignorance of some of our administrators who are also part of the decay. In such circumstances the new administration must pay keen attention towards strengthening the various institutional capabilities of the various sporting disciplines, support capacity building, adequately develop existing physical structures, provide sports gear through a systematic and registered process and seek to formally register all sporting clubs through the National Sports Commission. An intense process is required to educate, highlight and formalize the decisions taken with the main purpose of creating a net-work of active and formal clubs that will be equipped with effective administrators.
Too many of our talented sportsmen and women have fallen prey to the indignity of a failed institutional system and it should dawn upon the Government to correct this historical flaw.
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