-starts consultations to open Sports and Academics Academy
By Rawle Welch
Canadian Soccer Hall of Fame inductee Alexander ‘Alex’ Bunbury of Guyanese parenthood arrived in Guyana yesterday and immediately got his busy two-week schedule off to a fast start.
The former outstanding Canadian national player, who was born in Plaisance to Harry and Dorren Bunbury in 1967, before migrating to Canada at the age of nine held a Press Briefing at the Pegasus Hotel yesterday morning to outline the purpose of his visit which is to meet with relevant stakeholders to discuss the possibility of setting up a Sports and Academics Academy.
The initiative which will be named the Alex Bunbury Sports and Academics Academy (ABSAA) is expected to create hope and opportunities through sports and academics for aspiring young athletes with football and academia being the main theme.
Bunbury, who was accompanied by his brother Samuel, a scout for Guyanese talent and members of the Local Organising Team for his visit, was returning to the country of his birth for the first time after a 40-year absence and he made a very emotional speech which captured the attention of all those who were present at the occasion exclusively.
According to the former Canadian striker, who played professionally in Portugal and in Major League Soccer in the United States of America, his success was due entirely on the upbringing he received during his formative years here in Guyana.
He said that becoming a professional athlete in any discipline is not easy it requires a strong commitment to every aspect of the sport and that is why a solid academic foundation is crucial to the athlete’s holistic development.
Bunbury, who disclosed that his real introduction to the sport started at the age of twelve years when quizzed on why it took him so long to return said that,” God’s timing is the best timing and I certainly believe that.”
He said that his purpose is to give back to the land of his birth, adding that while he was fortunate to play professionally he is aware that he could not do it alone, but rather it was the help of so many others that made it possible and it is his intention to assist others as well.
“I have a vision and I believe it’s a great vision which stems from how I was raised,” Bunbury told the gathering.
Asked about whether there was a timeline for the initiative, the outstanding Canadian footballer said that at present it is more like a concept and while the connections are there to secure funding, he is hoping that following consultations with the various stakeholders such as the Government of Guyana, the Guyana Football Federation (GFF), the Ministry of Education among others, the model could become a reality soon.
“There are kids falling through the cracks for the lack of opportunities and I know that all it takes to rescue them is someone making bold decisions,” he stated.
He, however, stressed that he is a stickler for combining talent with education and promised that the Academy will make this a top priority should it take off.
It was revealed that Bunbury was instrumental in getting two locally-based players to tryout in the MLS recently.
President of the GFF Wayne Forde, who was in attendance, said that the star footballer’s visit was timely and the organisation fully embraces his philosophy in attempting to bridge the gap between sports and academics.
He pointed out that such a venture is good for Guyana, adding that with the composition of the business team there is no doubt in his mind that the initiative will be a success.
Also present at the occasion was Director of Sport Christopher Jones, who in his remarks first welcomed the team and promised his entity’s support in whatever initiatives that the Academy would be having.
President of the Women’s Football Association Charmine Wade in her presentation spoke of her elation when approached by Bunbury’s representatives, informing that it will help the Association in its drive to stress the need to its members the importance of balancing their on-field pursuit with academic excellence.
Ministry of Education representative Nicholas Fraser in his remarks stated his CEO’s pledge to support the Academy in its endeavour, adding that from what he has learnt there are quite a few areas that the two entities could collaborate and they are looking forward to meeting with the principals.
Meanwhile, Bunbury’s tour will continue today with a tour of the prospective site for the Academy on the East Coast of Demerara.
A packed agenda is planned for his visit which will run until January 25.
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