By Edison Jefford
Sports associations affiliated to the Guyana Olympic Association (GOA) must be brave enough to challenge The Establishment whenever the Olympic body holds its Elections, because failure to do such could be an indictment
against the organisations responsible for the administration of sports in Guyana.
I expressed some amount of doubt surrounding the hosting of the GOA Elections because it was scheduled for this weekend, but I was told that it will now be held on December 21; the mere fact that the GOA did not formally inform the media of its election date and any changes points to the covert nature of its operations.
It does not only mark the general secrecy of the Olympic body’s functions, but also establishes a feature of K.A Juman Yassin’s 20-plus years Presidency where information was not forthcoming as it ought to be on various aspects of its management.
For instance, we do not, and have never known, how much the International Olympic Committee (IOC) grant to GOA is; how much has been spent to-date on the construction of its Headquarters at Turkeyen and who are the athletes that benefitted from the IOC Elite Athletes Programme.
These are just three issues that the media has never been fed clear information on. That the media has to investigate these without the Olympic body first attempting to disseminate the details does not augur well for the transparency of the organisation.
These are the characteristics of The Establishment, the old boys’ network that is so unashamed of its performance that it is seeking re-election after 20 odd years at the helm. Sport associations are the only institutions in a position to challenge The Establishment.
The campaign for Yassin in his re-election bid has started with the philanthropy and benevolence of GOA to associations heightening in the last quarter of this year. In addition, another member of the old boys’ network and Yassin’s underling, Ivor O’Brien lobbied for the return of Yassin in another section of the print media.
That was expected since O’Brien’s global recognition was a direct result of an extensive sojourn at the GOA as well. O’Brien reportedly served during the tenure of Sir Lionel Luckhoo in the 70s, only stepping aside in the New Millennium, which made him one of the longest serving GOA Officials in its history, and placed him, like Yassin, in contention for international positions.
But realistically O’Brien will be challenged outside of his international establishment to name domestic programmes that succeeded to develop sports. I gave an example weeks ago of how the Olympic body failed Kadecia Baird, who beat Bahamas’ Shaunae Miller in 2012 at the World Junior Championships, but did not go on to international success at the senior level as Miller did because of lack of support.
Miller is now an Olympic Gold Medallist and World Championships Silver Medallist. O’Brien is lobbying for the return of an Establishment that consistently failed athletes and sports in Guyana. It is bordering on immorality for one to be parading international recognitions when the domestic situation that produced that individual remains in shambles.
But that has been the nature of many sport associations here: the individual aggrandizement takes precedence over the development of the sport and the athlete. In that context, O’Brien’s support for Yassin, however inflammatory it might have been, is understood. But at the end of the day, those sport associations eligible to vote have a choice to make.
That decision is rooted in whether associations continue with the current underdeveloped status-quo or whether they will choose a new path after challenging The Establishment. Following the elections we will know how serious associations are in moving sports forward in Guyana.
Some prominent association heads remain in doubt. One of them plainly said “no one is putting their hands up Edison”, meaning that no one is seeking to challenge Yassin for the post. Another informed that Yassin has his quota of association that will support him.
If associations need encouragement, they just have to look at what happened in the United States recently where an unlikely candidate, Donald Trump upset the seasoned campaigners and United Kingdom where Theresa May became Prime Minister after Brexit forced David Cameron to resign earlier this year.
The point is revolutions succeed. Sport associations affiliated to the GOA must be encouraged by that fact and show the courage at the ballot with their two votes to change the existing pitiable culture to one that will give our talented athletes hope.
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