Historic! Guyana’s first Sports Academy gets underway
- Squash, Volleyball first disciplines to commence
Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport, Charles Ramson Jr, along with Director of Sport of the National Sports Commission, Steve Ninvalle, on Saturday (December 18), were on hand at the National Racquet Centre and the Cliff Anderson Sports Hall, to see the start of the first-ever National Sports Academy.
The Academy will initially focus on the 12 core sports- cricket, football, athletics, basketball, table tennis, swimming, hockey, squash, rugby, volleyball, tennis and badminton.
At the National Racquet Centre on Woolford Avenue, Squash players, under the guidance of National Coach Carl Ince, began their training.
Guyana Squash Association (GSA) president Owen Verwey called it a momentous occasion.
“We’re very proud and happy to be the very first one (Association) to kick-off the sports Academy. For Squash, we’re a relatively small fraternity, but we’re dedicated. So we’re focusing on delivering what we’re supposed to do for sports and for the youths in particular,” Verwey said.
Minister Ramson Jr. informed that facilities were a major factor in identifying the core sports and pointed to the Squash courts at the National Racquet Centre, which is said to be the only public squash court in the English-speaking Caribbean.
The facility was commissioned in 2013, but Minister Ramson noted that it was “under-utilised.”
However, under his leadership at the Ministry, the Squash courts at the National Racquet Centre are now available, free of cost, to the GSA and its members specifically for the implementation of the Sports Academy.
Meanwhile, over at the Cliff Anderson Sports Hall, president of the Guyana Volleyball Federation (GVF), Levi Nedd, stated that in his over 40 years involved in the sport, he has never been part of such a programme.
The National Sports Commission (NSC) will oversee the National Sports Academy, as the Director of Sport, after highlighting the historic occasion, said the 12 core sports will be the beneficiary of the Government’s long-term investment in sports.
Ninvalle encouraged the athletes to pay full attention and remain dedicated to the training programme during the duration of the Academy.
During a public presentation of the National Sports Academy at the inaugural Guyana Sports Conference in October at the National Cultural Centre, Minister Ramson pointed out that the nursery level will target players between the ages of 12-17.
At the tournament level, the Government of Guyana, through the NSC will earmark at least $12M annually for the governing bodies of the core sports, to support the organisation of tournaments.
Above-average performers, who excel at tournaments or those who show inordinate improvement will be selected for the elite training.
The elite training will last on average four to eight weeks and will see selected individuals dedicating themselves full-time to training. In order to achieve this, the Minister announced that a stipend would be given.
Minister Ramson said that the Sports Academy was a specific manifesto promise and reflects President Irfaan Ali’s “bottom-up” approach to national development.
The remaining core sports will continue to roll out in the next few weeks as they complete their preparatory arrangements and training.