OPINION: Change needed at GOA


Says Treiston Joseph


1980…Moscow Olympics… Guyana landed its first Olympic medal under the Guyana Olympic Association (GOA) leadership of Lionel Luckhoo, but to date has not replicated that feat; a statistic that has haunted not just Guyana, but also the image of the GOA.


Since 1980, the GOA has changed presidency twice with Justice Rudolph Harper taking over from Luckhoo and now K.A. Juman Yassin, who has been in power for exactly two decades. Interestingly, all three men are law practitioners.


Yassin took the leadership of the association in 1996 and to date has seen five Olympics Games come and go (2000, 2004, 2008, 2012, 2016). During this time, Guyana has produced just one Olympic finalist in Troy Doris, in the Men’s Triple Jump in Rio this year.


However, if we are to give Yassin’s 20-year performance a grade, it would have to be an F- and nothing more when it comes to the Olympics.


Swimming still receives wild card spots; since 1980 cycling has fallen from grace; athletics still struggles; boxing yet to find back its mojo; and the list can go on.


Nevertheless, Yassin continues to make excuse after excuse for the lack of positive results at the Olympic level, noting that there is shortage of funding among other things.


If for 20 years, the GOA under the rule of Yassin cannot be innovative enough to draw funding to sport, then there is nothing wrong with the athletes, but more so with Yassin and his administration.


Interestingly, at Yassin’s last press conference, which addressed his latest Olympic Games at the helm of the GOA, he laid the blame at the foot of sport development in schools, noting that the GOA is not responsible for such; rightfully so, Yassin even went on to say the GOA is not responsible for the development of athletes, the associations are.


So my question would be what is the purpose of the GOA?


If the GOA is not responsible for the development of sport in schools; rightfully so or the athletes that they govern and seemingly gathering funds, why not just let the respective associations communicate directly with the International Olympic Committee (IOC), rather than have a rubberstamp GOA running Olympic sport in Guyana.


In business there is an organisational chart with various levels and if that organisation fails to reach its target then regardless of which level falls short those at the top are held accountable for the failures of those they manage.


Simply put for 20 years there has been no progress for Olympic sports and as the watchdogs of the people we cannot sit idly by and allow Yassin to continually make excuses for the lack of results while he enjoys the benefits that comes with running the GOA.


Yassin has clearly lost his vision and vigour for the development of sport and is clearly living in denial that the GOA is not responsible for the development of athletes; for if Guyana should strike a medal at the Olympics then Yassin will celebrate as though he was a part of that process, which would be rather ironic after his latest comments.


There is a need for change in the GOA and with elections approaching in December maybe the electoral process should be publicised as compared to years gone by.


With that being said, in the words of playwright and political activist, Bernard Shaw, “progress is impossible without change and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.”


Photo caption: K.A. Juman Yassin

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