The state of sports

Stabroek News
July 31, 2000

Recently Foster Sampson, a qualified athletics coach gave his opinion in an exclusive interview with Stabroek Sport on the state of sports in Guyana.

In his assessment, Sampson, who had just returned from the junior CAC games in Puerto Rico, said he felt that sports was on the downslide.

He also said not enough use was being made of the talents of our youths some of whom were more inclined to lime and get up to the usual boyhood pranks.

Sampson was careful not to attribute the decline in sports to any particular group or organisation.

It was therefore surprising to see an immediate response from the Director of Sports Neil Kumar which sought to give a different view.

While it is Mr Kumar's right to give his opinion also, his response was not fully accurate.

It is Mr Sampson's, (indeed anyone's) democratic right to give opinions when asked.

Stabroek News is an important institution in our society.

It is a forum where ordinary persons, as well as those who are intellectually gifted, can express opinions or thoughts on matters within our society. Indeed, the letters column of this newspaper on occasions carry letters thatare quite educational and beneficial to readers.

The 'What the people say' column is a forum where the man in the street gives his opinions on a wide range of topical issues.

In the context of our unique situation where adverse opinions can result in reprisals against those who offer them and where statements sometimes take on political overtones, Sampson must be commended for having the strength of his conviction to lay the facts as he sees them.

Indeed, the points raised by Sampson are not an indictment against the National Sports Commission, the National Associations or other influential sporting bodies which try their best.

Nor is it an indictment against sponsors such as GTM, Banks DIH, Courts, DDL, NBIC, Demerara Bank, or the many companies that support sports through generous sponsorship.

It is simply an expression of what is manifest in our society and a reflection that the combined efforts of sports administrators and sponsors alike is not enough to make an impact to the system in order to generate growth.

What is important here is to ascertain who is correct, Sampson's impression that there has been a decline in sports generally or whether Kumar's evaluation that there has been growth and take it from there.

In terms of Olympic sports, however, it must be a travesty to the talents of our nation's youths that only two athletes will be competing at the Sydney 2000 Olympics and that none of the two athletes made the qualifying `A' standard times, but the lower `B' standard mark.

This, is a reflection of the lack of facilities and other factors that Mr Sampson spoke about.

Sports is a highly competitive field. Huge sums of monies are spent to enable athletes to perform better and better.

Outdated equipment and facilities have no place in international sport.

Do coaches pay attention to the diet of our athletes that are preparing for competition or do they only concentrate on the physical training?

Last week the British government announced that it was doubling government funding for sport to 102 million pounds over a three year period to "get English sport back on its feet."

Perhaps the time is ripe to start a `get Guyana sport back on its feet' campaign.

As mentioned before the state of sports in Guyana is not an indictment against sports administrators, or sponsors.

It is an indictment against us all.

Follow the goings-on in Guyana
in Guyana Today