Wish list 2002 Orin Davidson's Eye on Sport
Stabroek News
December 30, 2001

Guyanese fans have waited long and hard for the most elusive sports feat this country has ever chased. It was finally accomplished this year when Andrew `Sixhead' Lewis knocked out American James Page to win the World Boxing Association welterweight title.

Despite the magnitude of his feat in becoming the first Guyanese to win a world boxing title, the accomplishment is yet to fully galvanise the powers that be into action to make life better for our sportsmen.

Apart from influencing Government to decide to build a boxing gym in the ward where he was born in Albouystown, Lewis' feat has not caused a stampede by the politicians and businessmen to get involved by sponsoring sportsmen or events.

As a result the requirements for sport in Guyana are still enormous. Thus, a wish list would be most appropriate as we prepare to enter a new year in 2002.

Here goes:

First and foremost Government needs to get serious about sport. It will take a long time for sportspeople to forgive the current administration for withdrawing the 200-odd acres of land it had set aside for a proposed stadium complex three years ago.

And for almost a year the executive of the National Sports Commission has not been appointed, a clear example of the disinterest shown by officials who should know better. President Bharrat Jagdeo has shown an inclination to help, but a bigger collective effort from all quarters is needed for serious development.

2) A major increase in sponsorship from the government and private sector to fund teams or individuals to participate in international competition is needed. Too many of our youngsters are denied valuable exposure which could lead to unlimited levels of achievement.

Boxer Terrence Ali is an example of one individual who capitalised on exposure he acquired on his own to become one of the best junior welterweight fighters of his time. Cricketer Ramnaresh Sarwan is now beginning to repay the West Indies selectors for extensive investment in him over the years. Thus there is no end to the achievement of the young athletes, boxers, footballers and tennis players among others, who can get better with proper competition.

Despite establishing this country as the most successful Caricom country in amateur boxing, and after winning the senior title at this year's Caribbean championships, no boxer from this country competed at the World Championships in Ireland where teams from Jamaica, Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago were present, all because of a lack of money.

3) An end to the foot dragging for the release of land for the erection of facilities is also required. This country is without internationally recognised arenas for most sports and it seems we are further away than ever from having even some of the most basic requirements.

The cycling and swimming authorities have for ages, sought land to start construction of a banked track and a 50-metre pool as the funding was available. Similarly, plans to develop the former Non Pariel Park tennis club, originally the centre for local tennis, fell through because of the reluctance to provide the developers with a lease. To this day the facility known as the National Sports Commission (NSC) centre remains a potential prime facility fast approaching total decay.

Also the Guyana Hockey Board has secured help to lay an artificial pitch for the sport. But it needs the land which they are not sure of ever acquiring.

The setting up of a rubberised track for athletics has been mooted a long time ago but because the land is unattainable, it has not become a reality. Hosting of matches in the 2007 World Cup cricket competition requires fully equipped grounds, the likes that would make the GCC ground obsolete in its present state. Talks about a possible merger with GFC ground to make space for the required improvement have seemingly been going on for ages without a solution in sight.

4) Benefits for sport from the lottery fund has become a huge disappointment, as apart from the building of minor community facilities, nothing substantial has been had from the fund for major development.

5) There is need for administrators of the majority of sports associations to put the sport first before themselves in the many decision making processes made every day. This might be the exception to the rule in other countries, but sadly it is the other way around in Guyana.

Here's to a prosperous New Year.