Guyana hosted record number of international championships in 1999
By Donovan Matthews and Isaiah Chappelle
January 1, 2000
WHILE athletes were generally not able to deliver, sports administrators were tested at the international level as Guyana hosted probably a record number of international championships over the past year.
Guyana first hosted the Inter-Guiana's Under-16 Volleyball Championships, then the Third Biennial Junior CARICOM Basketball Championships, both in July.
The Junior Caribbean Table Tennis Championships and the Biennial CARASRA Squash Championships were staged in August and the West Indies Under-15 Cricket Championships in September, followed by the West Indies Full Bore Rifle Championships in October and the first-ever Southern Caribbean Rugby Championships in November.
Despite home advantage, Guyana captured only the Under-15 cricket title. Hosting the regional junior championships was more or less routine for the Guyana Cricket Board, having had experience from staging NorTel Championships and group matches in both the one-day and four-day senior tournaments.
The only big challenge the GCB faced was the weather. The organisers requested a week's delay as rains wreaked havoc with the grounds. Eventually the tournament was reduced to a one-day format.
In tennis, Guyana's girls placed second but the boys did not reach the first-five slot. Administratively, however, the Guyana Table Tennis Association received high marks. All the teams - even the locals - were accommodated at the Ocean View International Hotel.
But the GTTA had a dress rehearsal when they hosted a Goodwill series in June involving both senior and junior players from Guyana, Barbados and Trinidad & Tobago. The locals won both categories.
In squash, Guyana took the Men's team and Men's Individual titles but placed third overall. The Guyana Squash Racquets Association was, as usual, efficient in staging a successful championship, drawing from experience in hosting the junior version two years ago. The Association secured sponsorship from the National Bank of Industry & Commerce Limited.
The Southern Caribbean Rugby Championships were hailed a success story, although the local team only placed third. The Guyana Rugby Football Union clinched funding from the government, Guyana Telephone & Telegraph Company and Banks DIH Limited. Minister of Sport, Gail Teixeira, organised Lotto funds to build new changing-rooms and public toilets.
And the two championship grounds were upgraded with money from the National Sports Commission, which comes under the Ministry of Sports.
Guyana for the first time lost the West Indies Full Bore title on local soil, but the visiting teams were well taken care of. They were given a chance to see the country outside of Georgetown. Teams were accommodated at Dora on the Soesdyke-Linden Highway and Timehri.
Perhaps the only blemish to a successful hosting was the embarrassing harassment meted out to teams, special invitees and the media at the closing ceremony at Camp Ayanganna.
The Guyana Volleyball Federation was the first national body to stage an international tournament for the year. The visiting youth teams from Suriname and French Guiana were accommodated at the Woodbine Hotel, a significant elevation from the dormitory.
Shortly after, the Guyana Basketball Federation also tried to elevate its hosting by placing teams at a hotel, but incurred huge debts which attracted litigation. The national body received some amount of sponsorship from Banks DIH Limited. The gate receipts were negligible, if any at all.
Football was probably the only major sport not to host a tournament. The Guyana Football Federation, however, did host legs of qualifying series. The governing body also staged a Three-way Goodwill series with Guyana, Dominica and St Lucia to prepare the National Under-23 team for the Olympic qualifying series.
Several governing bodies impressed at the international level which probably points to a bright future, but the local teams did not perform as well.
Chronicle Sport now looks back on the year with each sport discipline.
1999 was a bleak year for Guyana when compared to those most recent.
Of the regional tournaments Guyana managed to win just one - the rain-affected Under-15 hosted here in late August. Local teams fell at the semi-final hurdle in each of the other tournaments: the inaugural Busta Cup, the NorTel three-day and one-day, and the Red Stripe Bowl, although some positives did come out of the NorTel.
Narsingh Deonarine scored three centuries and won selection on the West Indies team to the Under-19 World Cup in Sri Lanka along with Roopnarine Ramgobin and Sewnarine Chattergoon. Ramgobin was however relegated to the ranks of reserves after it was found too many players were chosen.
For the first time in history no matches in the regional first class tournament were scheduled for Guyana on the request of Guyana Cricket Board president Chetram Singh. His reason was too much rain was forecast for that time of year and would adversely affect any matches scheduled.
History was made when local players donned coloured clothing for the first time in a local club competition, the Banks Premium Beer, which was eventually won by GCC.
The new venture which is a move in keeping with changes in the international game, had its snags however as only clubs in Demerara seemed able to come up with white balls and coloured clothing. As a result the other finalists, Albion of Berbice, looked very out of sorts when the players had to resort to their own clothing after suits provided by the sponsors proved inadequate.
GCC also reached the final of the other national club competition, the Sunburst knockout, which was put off until the new year after the rainy season caught up with organisers.
As a result of their consistency GCC were named the GCB's club of the year at the Awards Ceremony in December. West Indies player Reon King was voted Cricketer of the Year, Mahendra Nagamootoo was the Best Bowler, while Deonarine won the Batsman of the Year and was the Most Improved Player awards.
Among the losses suffered was that of long-serving administrator Leslie Amsterdam who died by drowning in March.
Guyanese also lost the services of former West Indies batsman Clayton Lambert who announced his retirement after the Busta Cup. Enigmatic all-rounder Carl Hooper followed Lambert into retirement after the sixth one-day international in Barbados and the GCB president said it was a big blow to Guyana's cricket. Hooper however had a change of heart and announced he would be back for the 2000 Busta Cup.
Although missing out on the Busta Cup, Guyana were awarded the Fifth Cable and Wireless One-day match between West Indies and Australia which ended in chaos at Bourda.
Amid scenes reminiscent of the West Indies/Pakistan match in 1993, fans invaded the field at the end of the match causing the match to be declared a tie by match referee Raman Subba Row.
Fears that Guyana could lose its One-Day International status were later allayed.
Seven more past Guyana players were honoured when the GCB held its second Hall of Fame induction ceremony during the Australian tour in April. Those chosen were Basil Butcher, Roy Fredericks, Lance Gibbs, Clive Lloyd, Rohan Kanhai, Joe Solomon and Clyde Walcott.
Demerara won both senior inter-county tournaments, quite easily, while Berbice confirmed their superiority at the junior level, winning the Under-15 and Under-19 versions.
The GCB's Cricket Development Committee earmarked the North Rupununi for development but to date nothing has come out of it.
Former Guyana and West Indies batsman Alvin Kallicharran, home on holiday, said he was keen to offer his services to help develop cricket locally especially in the sugar estates.
1999 marked the reviving of the Guyana Netball Association (GNA) under new president Lawrence Griffith who played a key role in Guyana sending a team to the Caribbean Netball Association's Under-16 tournament in Barbados in August, before resigning in October.
The gap between Guyana and the other teams was obvious at the tournament as the Guyanese lost all their games by very wide margins.
Help was needed and some was forthcoming in the form of Australian coach Karen Worland who held several clinics during her two-week stay. A few locals also took the Netball Umpires Preliminary Examination in October, with eight of 10 being successful in what is the first step to becoming a certified umpire.
The only national tournament staged ended in controversy when the newly-formed Emanie of Georgetown failed to take the court in the final against New Amsterdam's Blazers due to an umpiring dispute.
Guyana failed to win a game at the Inter-Guiana Under-16 tournament at the end of 1998 in Suriname but Bhagwandin, the president, urged fans not be disheartened since most of the players were only just embarking on their careers.
The Guyanese however went the same route when the tournament was hosted by Guyana in July, again failing to win a game as Suriname won the boys' and girls' titles.
Defenders of Berbice and Sargons of Georgetown earned the right to represent Guyana at the Inter-Guiana champion club tournament in French Guiana after winning the local tournaments. Both fared badly in Cayenne, however, while the teams to the Senior Inter-Guiana tournament in October in Suriname also returned empty-handed, although Nyota Peters copped the female MVP award.
A visit by Guyanese-born Director of the World Volleyball Training Centre in Huguenot, New York, Steve Henry resulted in training sessions with coaches and players. Henry also offered a scholarship, through the NSC, for a local coach to attend the Centre.
Guyana failed to regain their title although winning at athletics and football in the French Guiana capital, Cayenne. The Guyanese lost at basketball, volleyball and swimming with Suriname emerging champs for the second successive year.
The locals' agony at losing was not helped by an arduous journey to and from French Guiana which included meals at infrequent intervals and substandard accommodation at an army base in Suriname.
A probe was ordered into the "near fiasco" by Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport Gail Teixeira but nothing came out of it.
Guyana hosted the Caribbean Junior Championships in August at the Cliff Anderson Sports Hall, but apart from the girls' doubles won by Bertnell Richards and Abrelle Poole, there was no success for the locals.
The GTTA also hosted a Goodwill competition in June with overseas-based Idi Lewis outlasting nine-time local men's champion Sydney Christophe to win the singles crown.
Guyana's other major success came at the Goddard Enterprise junior tournament in April in Barbados where they retained the team title with strong performances from Bertnell Richards and Robert Bostwick. National ladies' champion Richards also captured the girls' Under-17 singles; the girls doublers with Abrelle Poole and the mixed doubles with Michael Waithe. Vida Moore won the girls' Under-14 singles.
In the local tournaments Christophe staved off a strong challenge from Lewis to keep the men's singles title at the National Championships where Richards also claimed the ladies' title.
Off the field, GTTA, in collaboration with Caribbean Table Tennis Federation unveiled plans for producing a world champion by 2003. Corporate assistance is the core in providing the necessary working base to achieve this aim and several influential business heads were invited to have an insight into the programme for "corporate partnering".
English coach Peter McQueen conducted a two-week training programme in July, combining match theory with practicals and spending a lot of time at the table.
In a year when the sport was almost dormant Guyana managed to win two Gold medals at the World Masters championships in Glasgow, Scotland, in September.
Subrina Pestano shattered two records on her way to winning the women's 69-kilo category, while Stanley Braithwaite also won Gold in the men's 69-kilo division. Guyana also claimed Bronze in the women's 63-kilo category where Jennifer Hall participated.
Head of Special Olympics Guyana, Wilton Spencer, was a tower of strength for the local body and was instrumental in Guyana winning six medals at the Summer Games in North Carolina.
NSC - The NSC got a new chairman in Conrad Plummer after the long-serving Ken De Abreu tendered his resignation. De Abreu cited the disappearance of the 200 acres allocated for the National Stadium as one of the reasons he was fed-up.
ADMINISTRATIVE scandal nearly overshadowed some notable achievements in football during the past year.
The controversial April elections dominated speculation about the national governing body which was rechristened the Guyana Football Federation - a name change that did not improve the generally poor regard many had of the body.
In an Annual General Meeting convened on the last possible date, delegates went ahead with the meeting despite there being no financial report, contrary to the constitution of the then Guyana Football Association.
But controversy surfaced before the AGM when the incumbents announced that the list with names of the challengers would not be accepted since it arrived late. It was eventually accepted.
The challengers were confident of victory and agreed to go ahead with the AGM and elections. But they had not done their homework well and Colin Klass swept the polls, losing only the secretary post.
Secretary Terrence Archer eventually resigned as he was sidelined, evidenced by important documents and releases being signed by an unelected official.
One of the challengers carried the election results to court. He was swiftly banned by the GFF executive along with two other officials. The Guyana Football Referees Association did not budge on the GFF ruling and the entire referees body was suspended.
Daily referees administration was run unconstitutionally by a National Referees Committee which drew membership from the very referees who were banned.
Months after the elections, the financial report, credibility of which revolved on details of how the FIFA funding was used, was eventually accepted by the General Council.
The national governing body was further given a clean slate by CONCACAF and Caribbean Football Union president, Austin `Jack' Warner, for its use of the first package of FIFA funding, given to national bodies for the development of the sport.
With such vindication, the new GFF began, albeit a bit late, to concentrate on preparing the National Under-23 team for the Olympic qualifying series. The players declared they had no major complaints about the administrative arrangements.
The GFF even organised an international three-way tournament between Guyana, St Lucia and Dominica as part of preparations.
Guyana did not lose a match, but their dreams for the Sydney Games remained a dream since they did not win a match.
Earlier in the year, the senior team did not make it to the Caribbean finals and the Under-15 team bowed out on local soil, failing to advance to the next round of a World Cup preparation regional tournament.
Despite improved administrative support, the various national teams failed to go beyond preliminary rounds in international tournaments, but football still offered the greatest opening as a truly national sport.
FIFA vice-president `Jack' Warner announced that Guyana was among five countries in the region to be assisted by the World governing body to improve facilities - for Guyana it means the construction of the nation's first stadium.
The GFF courted Minister of Sport, Gail Teixeira, who eagerly joined in identifying land for the structure, seeing spin-off benefits which would go beyond the playfield.
Warner and the Minister Teixeira symbolically cut the ribbon to open a new football secretariat in Bel Air. Warner also assisted in equipping the office which is in rented property with the option of buying later.
The GFF also secured trials for possible professional contracts for two Under-20 players - Neil Hernandez and Kayode McKinnon - in Jamaica and youth player Nadru McAllister in Holland.
Sponsorship for tournaments in Berbice and Bartica was clinched by the GFF from Banks DIH Limited, under the Banks Milk Stout banner.
Those were great strides for the national governing body. In addition, for the first time, the premier national championship, the Carib League Inter-sub-association championship, was completed within the year. Upper Demerara retained the title.
However, the greatest challenge the GFF faced was convincing the football fraternity that it was all for football. Spectators still did not come out in large numbers even for international matches.
But fans packed the GFC ground, Bourda, for a club game between Western Tigers and Victoria Kings, staged by an independent promoter.
However, football still ended the year with much fanfare - through the Kashif and Shanghai Organisation. The promoters went all out to make the tenth tournament the biggest ever.
Apart from the founding sponsor, Banks DIH Limited, the organisers were able to clinch corporate funding from Western Union and the Guyana Telegraph and Telephone Company. They also received support from business houses in Georgetown and Linden, and beyond our shores - New York, London and Holland.
Kashif & Shanghai even attracted government support and with Lotto money, stadium quality lights were installed at the main venue, the Mackenzie Sports Club ground.
The Minister of Sport graciously accepted to be the patron of the Banks DIH Kashif & Shanghai 2000. She declared the final on New Year's Day a national event would be the first of the new year.
It turned out to be the tournaments of tournaments, kicking off to a crowd similar in size to those attending finals in previous tournaments. After preliminaries in Linden, Georgetown, West Demerara and East Coast Demerara, a crowd of similar size witnessed the semi-finals.
However, poor refereeing nearly tarnished the glory as fresh allegations about match-fixing surfaced. But Kashif Muhammed refuted the claim, saying that was not possible since the organisers had no control over the officiating personnel and their on-field decisions - more so who would score the goals.
However, thunderous cheers of one of the largest football crowd ever for a local encounter engulfed the New Year's night as Bakewell Topp XX captured the first football title of the new year.
THE biggest achievement for the rugby was the staging of the first-ever Southern Caribbean Championships at the National Park in November.
Two major obstacles faced the Guyana Rugby Football Union - constructing changing rooms and upgrading the ground to international standard. Heavy funding was required for the two projects.
The GRFU impressed upon the Minister of Sport, Gail Teixeira, the importance of the project and that the benefits would not be confined to rugby.
Minister Teixeira convinced Mayor Hamilton Green to have Lotto money, earmarked for the City Council, to be used for the projects.
A further challenge was the state in which the grounds were left after the Benny Hinn religious crusade. After the bureaucratic machinery finally released the funds, work was done in record time.
The GRFU also secured funding to stage the championships from Banks DIH Limited and the Guyana Telephone & Telegraph company.
Guyana had the chance of pulling off a major upset over powerhouse Trinidad & Tobago but were content to just reduce the margin of loss over previous encounters. Tactical errors also resulted in the local team placing just third.
But that was a good performance for a team who had limited time to prepare for a major international tournament. Not only did the weather hamper preparation, but the terrible condition of the ground in the aftermath of the Benny Hinn crusade posed another obstacle.
Also, the season started late, again because of the inclement weather which had the National Park in a poor state. Only the Banks Sevens tournament was staged before the international championships.
The year closed with just one other local tournament - the Mike De Groot Seven-a-side which Laparkan Hornets won.
Apart from the Southern Caribbean Championships, the GRFU made a major breakthrough - getting the game into the school system. Sadly, however, only School of the Nations had sport as a timetabled part of the curriculum, thus the ambitious plan started with that school.
The response of the students was stupendous. Both boys and girls dived unreservedly into the game, including the daughter of the Minister of Sport.
Two officials successfully participated in a Level II training programme - the highest in rugby - conducted by the International Rugby Board in Canada. Terrence Grant did the refereeing aspect of the course and Sherlock Solomon the coaching.
Guyana lost the West Indies Full Bore title for the first time on local soil, having won it since 1979.
But six local marksmen still made the first-ever West Indies team which will go Bisley 2000 shoot in July. Guyana also secure one place in the reserve and five in the standby list.
The Guyana National Rifle Association had a dress rehearsal in April when it hosted a Goodwill meet between Guyana, Barbados and Trinidad & Tobago.
Local competitions were also held for both handguns and full bore rifle, the National Championships being among them.
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