Sport Minister: “Standing still is not going to take us anywhere”

- Holistic and united approach needed to develop sport

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By Avenash Ramzan

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Now that the inaugural Guyana Sport Conference is done and dusted, focus shifts to the implementation of ideas and the realisation of the plans outlined for the first-ever Sport Academy, set to be launched soon.

In his closing remarks at the Sport Conference on Saturday (October 2, 2021), Sport Minister Charles Ramson Jr. was unflinching in his position that the momentum created through collaboration with the national associations/federations/boards up until this point, must continue to ensure there is sustained progress that can ultimately lead to athletic success.

“Standing still is not going to take us anywhere,” he told the gathering of sport administrators, aficionados and media operatives at the National Cultural Centre.

“And the worst part about standing still is that all the other countries, they’re not standing still. So even when we may not be moving, we’re moving in reverse because they’re moving ahead of us.”

The Minister said the plans to create real change in the way sport is viewed in Guyana would require all hands on deck.

Failure, he noted, “is not an option.”

“This is something that I’m serious about. This is something that the Ministry is serious about. This is something that the National Sports Commission is serious about,” he reiterated.

“This is serious business. The Sport Academy is not about playing sport only and it’s very important that we notice that. This is the basis on which we move forward, and it’s something that must happen.”

“What we’re trying to achieve is not impossible to achieve; it has been done (before). We all can do it, and imagine if we do it together. Just imagine if we can do it together.”

Sport Minister Charles Ramson Jr. with members of the various panels (Photo: Emmerson Campbell)

‘More to be done’

Ramson Jr., in his call for a holistic and united approach to take sport in Guyana to another level, added: “There is still not enough being done, and we have to be honest with ourselves.”

“I’m not saying this because I’m throwing stones or pointing fingers at anyone, but I want you to appreciate that we have to start from a basis of self-awareness.”

He continued, “Knowing that we’re starting from ground zero or probably minus ground zero is also important, because we’ve got a lot to catch up on. The good news is, if we all row this boat together in the same direction we’re going to be able to get past negative zero, get past zero and make it all the way to 10 in a short space of time.”

The Minister lauded the administrators for their participation and input in the Sport Conference, which took the form of four panel discussions focusing on Governance, Nurturing Talent, Mindset, Revenue, Sponsorship, Media, Nutrition, Injuries, Psychology, Tournaments, Elite Training and International Competition.

“I’m very confident; very, very confident from what we’ve had today, what we’ve seen so far, that we will be able to transform the entire sport sector,” Ramson Jr. declared.

From left: Panellists Wayne Forde (Football), Dellon Davidson (NSC), Godfrey Broomes (Rugby) and Cristy Campbell (Tennis) at the Sport Conference (Photo: Emmerson Campbell)

The Sport Academy

The Minister described the Sport Conference, which will become an annual fixture, as fulfilling, given it presented a platform for the administrators of the 12 core sports to engage others and learn from the successes, failures and critical matters regarding policies.

The core sports currently identified by the Ministry are: Badminton, Basketball, Cricket, Squash, Table Tennis, Rugby, Volleyball, Swimming, Football, Squash, Lawn Tennis and Track and Field.

Minister Ramson Jr. clarified that these are just the initial disciplines chosen, and going forward others will be added or subtracted based on needs and available facilities.

The Minister explained that the three pillars of the Sport Academy are a Nursery, Tournaments, and Elite Training Academy.

The nursery will focus on athletes aged 12 to 25 and the Ministry or the National Sports Commission (NSC) will provide facilities and employ coaches/organisers and assign them to the core sports.

Additionally, the training programme will be designed in a “native way”, but using best practices of the associations’ parent bodies.

The Academy will “focus strictly on talent development” and it will do so through the National Sports Commission (NSC) in collaboration with the 12 core sports.

“The NSC will earmark $12 million every year where the 12 core sports get at least $1 million each just to do local tournaments,” the Minister stated.

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