The honeymoon is over

Sports comment
Stabroek News
June 11, 2001

The honeymoon as they say is over. It's time to revert back to normal life. And for the majority of Guyanese sportsmen and women normal life means coming to grips with what being an athlete in a third world country such as Guyana entails.

This means having your training being affected by blackouts, having to seek sponsorship for international tournaments from unwilling or unable business houses, having to compete on outdated facilities and numerous other hardships.

That is why Andrew 'Sixhead' Lewis' visit to Guyana was so beneficial to society.

It not only made us proud that at last we have our own world champion and that we can now talk of `Sixhead' the way other Caribbean nations talk about Courtney Walsh, Dwight Yorke, Obadele Thompson, Merlene Ottey and Ato Boldon to name a few, but it made the majority of Guyanese forget about the travails of life in Guyana.

'Sixhead' Lewis was the ideal cosmetic facelift that this country needed to hide the gaping holes in the society. And this is not a pessimistic outlook but a necessary, though unflattering assessment of the situation.

Lewis provided avenues for politicians to bask in the limelight, for some businesses to reward sporting excellence and opportunities for the average Guyanese to see and touch a real life hero, one who is a role model for not only the underprivileged but all Guyanese.

He also proved to be an inspiration for the many young athletes who came into contact with him during his hectic stay.

But now that he has returned to the country where he was able to develop the skills he learnt here as a youth and eventually win for Guyana her first world title its back to square one.

Now, those that jumped on the `Sixhead' bandwagon will have an opportunity to show that sport is important at all times and not only when one wins a world title.

They will have an opportunity to put more money towards sports, sponsors will still be approached to support the various sports disciplines and sports administrators will still be looked upon to implement training programmes aimed at the development of our athletes.

But whether 'Sixhead's' WBA welterweight world title win and subsequent visit made any difference to their approach and views towards sports remains to be seen.

Athletes, like Guyana scholars Roger Arjoon, George Melville, Jude Phillip Neri and Daniel Fung could tell of the role sports played in their educational development which only further serves to emphasise the importance of sports to a society such as ours.

They will tell you that there is nothing to suggest that sports and education cannot go hand in hand.

Others like `Sixhead' Lewis will tell of the way sports lifted them out of the ghettos so to speak and propelled them to stardom and world fame, not to mention increased wealth.

Still others will be able to speak of the unifying potential of sports, when during such activity, one sees not the colour of an athlete's skin or hair but only the skills produced by hours and hours of dedicated, disciplined training.

But these athletes could not reach the heights they did unless they received support from the various players in the sports industry.

And that is all that sportsmen and women are asking of the government, business houses, sports associations, the media, the private sector and the public.... for all the various forms of support to enable them to, like `Sixhead' Lewis reach their fullest potential.

Isn't it time they receive it?