Sport Conference has kickstarted the development process- DoS Ninvalle

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By Avenash Ramzan

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Now that the inaugural Sport Conference has been successfully held, focus shifts to the implementation of the first-ever Sport Academy, that is being coordinated through the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport.

Director of Sport, Steve Ninvalle, reflecting on the Conference, said it is now about building on the gains made from the one-day event at the National Cultural Centre.

The brainchild of Sport Minister Charles Ramson Jr., the Sport Conference was held on October 2 and featured four panel discussions involving the 12 core disciplines, touching on a range of topics related to sport development.

Representatives of the other associations were also in attendance.

The Sport Conference formed part of an informational and consultative process for the first-ever Sports Academy, which will be launched in early November.

“What we all learnt from that Sport Conference is that we all, more or less, have the same common issues,” Ninvalle told News Room Sport in an exclusive interview.

“That gives the Ministry and the National Sports Commission a mandate to try to solve these common problems.”

Physiotherapists Neil Barry Jr. (left) and Angelica Holder making presentations on behalf of the Sport Medicine Group at the Sport Conference (Photo: Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport)

Coming directly out of the Conference was a proposal from the Sport Medicine Group that is functioning out of the Guyana Olympic Association to be part of the Sport Academy.

The group, comprising Physiotherapists Neil Barry Jr. and Angelica Holder and Doctors Charlyn Elliott and Marisa Parris, was invited to speak about their vision during the panel discussion that focused on Nutrition, Injury and Psychology.

“So this is one of the spin-offs of the Sport Conference. I think the time is ripe in us moving forward and solving many of the issues that many of the sport associations and sport in general have in Guyana,” the Director reasoned.

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.

The panel discussions touched on Governance, Nurturing Talent, Mindset, Revenue, Sponsorship, Media, Nutrition, Injuries, Psychology, Tournaments, Elite Training and International Competition.

Academy focussed on development

The Sport Academy, which importantly, is a programme and not a building, will centre around three pillars- Nursery, Tournaments and Elite Training Academy.

Minister Ramson Jr. pointed out that 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 is 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.

He added that when the Associations/Federations are planning their yearly activities they “will know the money is there as a basis to do tournaments.”

Ramson Jr. clarified that some tournaments will get more money because of the wider reach or higher cost to run the tournament.

A prerequisite will be a national final, which will be broadcast on the Ministry’s Facebook page.

Minister of Sport Charles Ramson Jr. speaking at the Sport Conference (Photo: Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport)

Serious business

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.”

President of the Guyana Tennis Association Cristy Campbell (centre) speaks at the Sport Conference in the presence of Rugby Union PRO Godfrey Broomes (left) and moderator Avenash Ramzan (Photo: Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport)

‘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.

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