OPINION: AAG needs purposeful direction
Says Treiston Joseph
I will start by congratulating the Athletics Association of Guyana (AAG) on what it has accomplished over the past year with varying successes at the junior level.
However, the AAG is faced with a serious problem that will become bigger in the next couple of years and that is the lack of development at the senior level of the sport.
It is clear that the AAG has made an extra effort to focus on giving the youths and juniors every opportunity to succeed and it has definitely paid dividends. Again, congratulations to the Aubrey Hutson-led association.
But let’s be real. Guyana has always had an influx of talented junior athletes not just during this era, but in times past as well but I’m not here to go down a list of athletes.
The success of this current crop of junior athletes, in my estimation, are more so the work of the coaches rather than any proposed junior programme the AAG has so often boasted they have without any concrete evidence that such a programme even exist.
So before I go on to the essence of my article I will end the speculation of this so called junior programme by asking the AAG one simple question: If there is such a development programme for the juniors, and I believe such a programme will have yearly projections, then why has the AAG not submitted the four-year plan or plans for the Olympics to either the National Sports Commission (NSC) or the Guyana Olympic Association (GOA)?
Or are juniors expected to stay juniors forever?
Now here is where the problem is; the AAG has placed all its emphasis on the juniors and has basically left the seniors to fend for themselves. It is like placing all your eggs in one basket and when they are about to hatch you knowingly drop them hoping they all still hatch perfectly.
So my next question will be to the AAG; when this current crop of junior athletes reaches to the senior level, what then?
Will you just retool and focus on the next crop of juniors and leave the newly turned seniors in the same predicaments as the ones that exist today?
The ‘Winston George situation’, where he paid his own travel to compete at the South American Seniors, only to win gold off his own strength, is such a bad look on the association and only a microcosm of what is actually happening to seniors athletes today.
There is hardly any competition at the senior level; these guys are unable to make money to upkeep their bodies and they are given limited chances to succeed at the senior level.
That leads to no progress and frustration, and it is why more athletes continue to fall out of the sport after moving on from their junior careers and the AAG continues to make excuse after excuse for the lack of development at that level.
Meanwhile, these very juniors, who are getting so much attention, in two or three years time when they become seniors, then they become the victims of an association that has shown no real interest in ensuring the development of the sport at all levels.
However, I understand that financial difficulties can play a role, but there are options for the AAG. For instance, all the money left on the table from a GOA level with regard to development programmes for the sport; but if you don’t submit plans how can you access the funding right?
What needs to happen now before it’s too late is for the AAG to refocus and map out an actual plan that will take juniors to their senior years successfully while maintaining and improving these athletes to compete on a world level as they did at the junior level.
You know Albert Einstein once described insanity as doing the same thing over and over, expecting a different result…I say this to say that it would be very insane of the AAG to think that they can keep developing junior athletes with the hope of achieving ultimate success (Olympic medals) without developing a good senior programme. Simply put, the junior level should be a precursor to what those very athletes can achieve as seniors and not be the pinnacle of their careers.