By Rawle Welch
“Every child must have equal rights and opportunities to participate in organised activities and sport in schools must become a priority because it increases functional literacy,” Dr. Wazir Mohamed said during his address at yesterday’s Launch of the 7th Annual Digicel Schools Football Competition.
Dr. Mohamed, who is the Special Technical Adviser in the Ministry of Education, Culture & Sport and who deputised for Minster Dr. Rupert Roopnarine in what could be termed a frank presentation, bemoaned the lack of sports activities within schools and pleaded for an urgent shift in policy.
These remarks came shortly after he congratulated Digicel for its continued support towards the development of sport.
The distinguished official added that it is time for us as (parents, guardians and relevant stakeholders) to give back children their childhood.
He was referring to the education system which is plagued with the burden of extra lessons thereby robbing the children of the opportunity to participate in sports.
This he said affects their ability to be well rounded students and even went as far as offering himself, Dr. Roopnarine and many other outstanding Guyanese scholars as examples of those who were not affected by participation in sports.
“We should use history as a guide to ensure that our playgrounds are effectively utilised.”
He called on parents and communities to take up that oversight role in ensuring that the schools their children attend function properly.
Director of Sport Christopher Jones, who left his World Challenge Day activity to be present at the occasion, too recognised the work being done by Digicel and offered the National Sports Commission’s (NSC) unmitigated assistance should they require such.
“They (Digicel) are leading in the development of our young people and we at the Commission have recogined their efforts so I want to say here today we are committed to offering assistance wherever it is needed,” Jones stated.
He spoke of lights being donated to communities all around Guyana, citing the hinterland community of Waramadong as a beneficiary of the Government of Guyana goodwill.
Jones closed by asking the participating schools to exhibit the usual high standard of discipline and skill throughout the competition.
Head of Marketing Jacqueline James, whose brainchild it was to conceptualise the event, in her remarks spoke of how exciting the previous years were, adding that as the title sponsor they expect another thrilling year.
She disclosed that the mere fact that every year there is increased participation bears testimony of the tournament’s growing popularity, but more importantly the opportunity that is afforded players and communities to understand each other’s culture and custom.
According to James, over 160 schools will participate in this year’s competition with games scheduled for all the Regions, while the public will have the chance to be more engaged as the games are played.
“Because we want the public to be more engaged every year, we will be offering a chance for them to benefit from our giveways,” James told the gathering.
She acknowledged the support given by entities such as the Guyana Football Federation (GFF), the Guyana Referees Council, the Ministry of Education and NSC among others.
Tournament Co-ordinator Sherwin Osborne gave an overview of the tournament rules and players eligibility, informing that schools that contravene those regulations will be expelled immediately.
He urged schools to play by the rules and ensure that the tournament is played fair.
Third Vice-President of the GFF Thandi McAllister in her presentation highlighted the contribution of Digicel in relation to the Strategic Plan of the governing body which according to her has aided in the further development of the sport.
“Digicel’s contribution has worked well for us and we will be making available our Technical Development Officers and Youth Coaches throughout the tournament,” McAllister promised.
She added that grassroots football is important towards attaining the goals and achievements of the Federation and Digicel’s input is highly appreciated.
She too called on the participating schools to play fair and be good ambassadors.
The Launch was conducted at the West Demerara Secondary School.
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