‘Aim big’- Sport Minister tells youngsters as Athletics nursery gets underway
By Avenash Ramzan
The Sport Ministry and the National Sports Commission (NSC) on Sunday joined the Athletics Association of Guyana (AAG) in launching the first-ever Athletics nursery, which attracted a large turnout of youngsters at the National Track and Field Centre, Leonora.
Sport Minister Charles Ramson Jr., who delivered feature remarks at the West Demerara facility, reiterated the importance of the development process being intensified at this level, as it paves the way for structured growth and expansion going forward.
Athletics is one of the 12 core sports identified to benefit from the National Sports Academy Programme, the brainchild of Ramson Jr.
The Sports Academy is built on three pillars- Nursery, Tournaments and Elite Training Academy.
“Sport needs to aggressively transform because we have a lot of talent in the country. It has the potential for taking young people to the level of being internationally competitive,” Ramson Jr. told the young athletes on Sunday morning.
“But without having this vehicle that will streamline the talent, provide the support and platform to take you to that level of being able to compete with the international athletes, we’re never going to have this structured environment that creates that pool of talent from which we can choose.”
In highlighting the government’s commitment to partnering with former national athlete and Olympian Aliann Pompey for her annual Aliann Pompey Invitational, an Olympic qualification event, the Sport Minister pointed out that opportunities are there for athletes to be able to one day compete on the global stage.
“And this is a meet that is recognised by the IOC (International Olympic Committee); that’s pretty important because if you have a local meet where you can participate and compete in, you all have the chance to get to that point (Olympics),” Ramson Jr. explained.
The Sport Minister emphasised the need for coaches to also elevate their game, as there is a scientific approach to sporting success in the modern era, in contrast to the past when talent alone would suffice.
“We recognise that we have the talent, but to translate that and capitalise it to the form where it becomes internationally recognised and competitive, this is the vehicle that is going to take us there, and this in itself requires that commitment from every stakeholder,” Ramson Jr. said.
“You want to do this as a career, you got to start now,” he told the athletes.
“You got to make the sacrifice. Your parents have to know that this is something you want to do, and they have to support you too. The community has to support you too.”
President of the AAG, Aubrey Hutson, in lauding the government for spearheading the effort to stimulate growth and development through the National Sports Academy Programme, congratulated the first batch of youngsters who have been drafted in the nursery.
“While we are working out further details and our execution of our plan, we must start, and start we are doing today. And I’m happy today that we have almost all our coaches present,” Hutson said.
National Sports Commission member, Cristy Campbell, called on Hutson and his executives to be prepared for the “long haul”, as work to get the athletes to the next level now begins.
Campbell, who is also a national tennis player and President of the Guyana Tennis Association, implored the athletes to maximise on the opportunity being afforded to them.
“And what makes it even better is that the athletes just have to show up- everything is funded by the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport and by extension the government of Guyana. Your only job is to show up and train and it puts you in a position to transition to the elite programme.”
The core sports currently identified by the Ministry are: Athletics, Badminton, Basketball, Cricket, Squash, Table Tennis, Rugby, Volleyball, Swimming, Football, Squash and Lawn Tennis.