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Minister Norton highlights sport plans for 2018

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Minister of Social Cohesion with responsibility for Sport, Dr. George Norton on Wednesday, highlighted areas of focus in 2018 during his Budget Debate presentation in the National Assembly, while reflecting on the achievements of the past 12 months.

Dr. Norton, who spoke glowingly of the performances of junior athletes in regional and international competitions in 2017, said the administration will continue to put measures in place to ensure those boys and girls progress and develop.

“The achievement in the field of athletics alone, Guyana now stands out as a proud nation, not only in the Caribbean but in all of South America.  For the first time, Guyana hosted the South American Junior Under-20 Championship in June of this year and Guyana gained, for the first time, 25 medals, including tree golds, 10 silvers and 12 bronze medals, but that not being a flash in the pan, we also participated in the CARIFTA Games held in Curacao in April where with five athletes, we got four gold, one silver and three bronze medals.

The icing on the cake was the feat of Daniel Williams from Linden, who copped a silver medal in the World Youth Under-18 Championship in Nairobi, Kenya, and in the South American Senior, Winston George won a gold medal in the 400 metres.”

He continued, “In 2017, the Ministry moved to enhance a number of grounds for recreational purposes. All of the regions have been targeted, because of the value of sport and particularly the availability of open spaces for promoting cohesion.  

In Region One, the Mabaruma Settlement Ground is being upgraded, as well as the Pamona Ground in Region Two, Parika and La Retraite Stanleytown ground, to name a few. Region Six would see work done at the Number 53, Union Ground and Gibraltar/ Fyrish ground.”

Physiotherapy and recovery is also an area for focus in 2018. “For the first time the government will have at its disposal and in its employ a sports psychologist that we are employing shortly in the Ministry of Social Cohesion.”

The construction of two new synthetic tracks is also on government’s agenda in 2018, Minister Norton highlighted.

“Phasing into 2018 Mr. Speaker, we see two additional synthetic tracks being completed in Guyana in the coastal and interior hubs of Region Six and 10. Both sites identified are located in the vicinity of established townships, notably New Amsterdam and Linden- Wismar. These tracks would be hosting venues for competitive events with training access and recreational facilities for our citizens,” Dr. Norton explained.

The completed expansion and upgrade of the National Gymnasium on Mandela Avenue is also on the programme of the Ministry in terms of infrastructure development.

“The remodelling of our National Gymnasium located on Mandela Avenue continues with the addition with two multi-purpose courts to facilitate sports (Futsal, Tennis, Basketball and Volleyball), as well as the addition of bleachers to these courts. The repositioning of the lights on the external courts would enable play after sundown and greater access to the facility and utilisation of the existing space.”

The allocation of the Ministry, Dr. Norton further indicated, would allow the country to achieve certain goals.  

“It would enable the Ministry to make contribution to support Guyana in achieving the UNDP Sustainable Development Goals, particularly Goal 10, which addresses reduced inequality, Goal 11, which gives attention to sustainable communities, and Goal 16, which emphasises peace, justice and strong institution.”

In the 2018 budget, which was presented by Finance Minister Winston Jordan, $520 million was allocated for sport. Minister Norton told the House $25 million will be made available to assist athletes to participate in local and international events. 

“The support of athletes through the provision of grants will continue to be a permanent feature of this government,” Minister Norton stated.

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