By Rawle Toney
Kaieteur News – The curtains came down on what was, at least from the outside looking in, a successful 2022 edition of the Hero Caribbean Premier League (CPL).
Guyana by all means did a fantastic job in hosting its first finals at Providence, thanks largely to the overwhelming support from the country’s cricket-crazed fans.
The Government of Guyana should be commended for fusing the arts, culture and entertainment with cricket, underscoring the notion that nothing can unify sectors and people like sports.
But with the dust now settled, it has opened up the Government of Guyana, particularly the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport, to questions about where do we go from here.
Behind President Mohamed Irfaan Ali, Guyana has been steadily transforming into a state synonymous with its new-found oil wealth.
However, it’s hard to say that sport is part of the transformation; a statement that the Head-of-State will certainly disagree with.
President Ali, appearing during the innings break of the Guyana Amazon Warriors and St Lucia Kings group stage match, highlighted, “Sports are a very important part of the transformation that we’re going through and that transformation necessitate investment in young people; investment in communities and one of the strongest component of that investment is in sports.”
But when it comes to sports, it’s more about action, rather than speaking about what you intend to do. It’s also about being transparent about those investments.
On the issue of transparency, the Government of Guyana has yet to disclose what was the cost of the deal with the CPL to have the finals here until 2024…. where is the money coming from?
The Government is also yet to disclose how much was budgeted for hosting the first finals. To be fair, I don’t think these questions have been asked before.
The struggles of the country’s athletes are well-documented. Many are looking at the lavish spending behind the hosting of the CPL and are only wishing that their discipline can have just half the attention, let alone investment.
Everything for sports is moving at a snail pace since not a single initiative has been realized over the past two years, again, raising the question about the $3.2B allocation in the 2022 budget.
In fact, compare sports to the other sectors in Guyana, it’s really night and day – evidently, we’re seeing more done elsewhere.
In last week’s column, I stated that maybe it’s time for President Ali to have a candid reasoning, privately, with the country’s elite athletes and their coaches to understand why I am of the view that sport is being left behind.
I encourage President Ali to take a deeper look into sports, just like he had done with the folks from the arts to ascertain their needs.
Last week I made an open challenge to anyone that can find a ‘proper’ community ground.
Even the National Track and Field Centre at Leonora, which was commissioned in 2015 by former President Donald Ramotar, remains a ‘shell’ of what it should be, given the deplorable state of the track.
The football field, which right now is the only facility in Guyana used for international matches, is an embarrassment.
To accentuate my point, the Leonora facility is the only venue available for football in the West Demerara area.
Two years after rehabilitation works had commenced, the Tennis Court at Woolford Avenue is yet to be completed.
We cannot speak about sports development and stating it is a huge part of the transformation of Guyana, but at the same time not providing facilities and funding to athletes.
Linden, a place which per capita, has produced more Olympians and national athletes than any part of Guyana and that community seems to not exist.
Kaieteur News had done a series of articles recently about the appalling state of the facilities in Region 10.
The ‘Hear Me Out’ column isn’t here to only be critical on things affecting athletes and sports in Guyana, but to also highlight and give kudos where necessary.
However, right now, we have nothing to cheer about.
On my social media platform, Facebook, I asked how many people support actual national teams the way they support the Guyana Amazon Warriors.
The response mostly was that the national teams are not visible like the local CPL franchise.
And they’re right, but they are not mentioning that the National teams do not enjoy the purse of corporate entities like ExxonMobil and more importantly, the Government of Guyana.
If President Ali is serious about sports like I assume he is, he will level the playing field by allowing the Government of Guyana to be equitable in its support for sports.
Right now, only cricket, more so the CPL, can cheer.
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