Volleyball stalwart, youth advocate “pleasantly surprised” by National Award
By Avenash Ramzan
Long-serving sport administrator, youth advocate and former national volleyball captain, Lenox Oliver Shuffler, said he was “pleasantly surprised” to see his name on the list of national awardees announced by President David Granger as part of the country’s 52nd Independence Anniversary.
The list was made public at the weekend, with 96 Guyanese, including 49 women, being nominated for the prestigious National Awards.
The 79-year-old Shuffler, who has been actively involved in volleyball as a player, coach and administrator for the past 62 years, will be conferred with the Golden Arrow of Achievement when the ceremony is held in October.
The volleyball stalwart has over the years been active in community and youth development, playing a major role in the Buxton Youth Developers, which he has teamed up with for the past 11 years.
“Well I must admit it was a very pleasant surprise,” Shuffler responded when quizzed on his reaction upon receiving the news.
“As I speak, I don’t know who made the recommendation, so publicly I would like to say thank you to whoever did it, and also to say thank you to the President and Government of Guyana for bestowing this honour on me.”
“To put it mildly, it’s unbelievable because you do things without expectation. I think we have many great people around the country doing things without expectation, but when you’re being rewarded for something you do and you love then it becomes even greater.”
Sport, Education and Culture
Over the years, Shuffler has been pushing for the development and merging of sport, education and culture through a concept he developed.
“For me this has been the way I’ve been for several years, and throughout the country I’ve been pushing this in Region Five, Region Six, the culture and sports train which I’ve developed. My suggestion is that this could be used in many other groups without taking away their motivation; that’s the whole idea of the concept,” Shuffler explained.
Those ideas have sprung to life through the Buxton Youth Developers and its vibrant Founder Robin Phillips.
“And the results are many. We have seen a disciplined set of youths; we’ve seen people representing the country in table tennis, in football and what I’m trying to do right now, along with Robin, is to develop the Vigilance playground into a beach games facility,” Shuffler highlighted.
“As you know beach games is taking off throughout the world and in a developing country it would be less costly to the athlete. Beach games wouldn’t need the expensive shoes and things like that, but they can get up to the Olympics at a lower cost. So my focus is to do a beach game facility at the Vigilance playground and give the youths a chance to really excel.”
Shuffler said being involved in sport has shaped his life and given him numerous opportunities for personal growth, as he has visited many countries, benefitted from networking and developed a high level of discipline.
Shuffler grew up in Albouystown, but spent some years in Victoria and Linden, moves that were necessitated by the fact that his father Gary was a policeman. He attended Broad Street Government School and Central High, and had a passion for cricket.
At the age of 15, Shuffler said that his father took him to play for the British Guiana Cricket Club where he played two Wight Cup matches, compiling scores of 44 and 103, which immediately won him a place in the Case Cup team.
That team was captained by former West Indies great Clyde Walcott and included such stalwarts as Charlie Stayers and Ian Jordan.
Shuffler earned the Most Promising Junior Player award in that competition, but his cricket career ended shortly after as he was offered a job as a Signals Clerk with International Air Radio at Atkinson Airfield even before he had finished writing the College of Preceptors Exams in 1955.
He then took up volleyball and by 1958 he was representing Guyana. He played for the county until 1977 before taking up different administrative roles.
In 1965, Shuffler got married to Lucy, a Trinidadian who played as a left-wing on that nation’s hockey team. The union produced four children- Alana, Denise, Dwayne and Kathy. Denise and Kathy have excelled in both local and regional squash championships, while several of Shuffler’s grandchildren have displayed sporting prowess.
They include motor-racers Kristian Jeffrey, Jeremy and Justin Tenpow, and squash players Keisha and Kayla Jeffrey, and Andrea, Kristina and Daina King.
To date, Shuffler has received two Paul Harris awards from the Rotary Club for the promotion of ‘Peace and Unity’; the National Sports Commission award as the ‘Male Sports Personality of the Year’; International Olympic Committee award for the promotion of ‘Sport and Promotion of Olympism’ through his Sports Education and Culture Train Concept for the advancement of Peace and Unity, among others.