Last year was tough but important strides were made
-- Gail Teixeira
Guyana Chronicle
January 20, 2002

Guyana’s Minister of Sport chats with Chronicle’s Isaiah Chappelle Part of the weakness of sport in this country is the management level by the national bodies - their communication with their club structures.”

You cannot produce superstars that can go into the Olympics and Commonwealth Games, if you are dealing with lower level coaches.”

LAST year in the Ministry of Sport was described by Minister Gail Teixeira as “tough” but important strides were still made but officers had first hand insight into the shortcomings, to produce a draft sports policy.

In an exclusive interview, Minister Teixeira told Chronicle Sport: “For the Ministry of Sport, last year was a tough year in the sense that between January and May it was difficult to get a number of things done, but we have to remember in the context of (national) elections. Nevertheless, a number of interesting things came out.”

Achievements included pushing women in sport and reaching out to the hinterland communities to offer assistance.

For the first time, a calvacade of sport was staged for International Women’s Day, to show that women can be involved in sport from a tender age to very old.

The ministry recognised that club structures were extremely weak and a club manual was prepared, ready for distribution this year.

A training programme for national associations was organised, but unfortunately executives of some associations did not attend.

But we feel strongly that a lot of the national associations need to strengthen their administration of sport,” Minister Teixeira said.

She added: “Part of the weakness of sport in this country is the management level by the national bodies - their communication with their club structures.”

The minister pointed out that Andrew ‘Sixhead’ Lewis’s winning of the world title showed there was a lot of potential in boxing, but there were tremendous weaknesses at the amateur level.

A lot of work will have to be done by the association and the ministry is willing to work with them to ensure amateur boxing is properly developed, not only in Georgetown but outside of Georgetown,” Minister Teixeira said.

The ministry assisted national teams touring overseas with funds, waivers for airline tickets and airport tax.

Minister Teixeira pointed out that many of our national teams, going into other countries to compete, are not given waivers on the airport tax, unlike in Guyana.

When we host competitions here we give waivers for airport tax for teams coming into the country, whereas when our teams go overseas that does not happen to them, particularly in the Caribbean,” Minister Teixeira said.

The ministry continued to strengthen communications with the ten regions, staging several football competitions in the Pakaraima villages and assisting in bringing out interior schools for the Guyana Teachers Union (GTU) Under-15 championships when the GTU had a shortfall in funds.

My special focus is always in the interior,” Minister Teixeira disclosed. She is now encouraging national associations to reach out to the interior where there is great potential in a number of disciplines - swimming, boxing, football, volleyball and cricket.

They are asking for simple things like the rules of the game, training of referees and coaches, so they can run their own games,” Minister Teixeira said.

The minister disclosed that with the experiences of last year, the ministry moved to a “level of consciousness” that sport will not move forward unless a number of factors are addressed.

There must be improvement in management in the regions, clubs, community, national associations, the ministry and organisations such as the Guyana Olympic Association.

Weaknesses was also identified in the level of coaching and the minister pointed out that if there are to be outstanding national teams, coaches must be trained at a higher level.

You cannot produce superstars that can go into the Olympics and Commonwealth Games, if you are dealing with lower level coaches,” Minister Teixeira said.

It was found that most of the national associations had no developmental plan, not even the medium length five-year plan.

We still think we can take someone, train him for a couple of weeks and put him into international competition,” Minister Teixeira pointed out. She declared: “If we do well, it’s a fluke. It’s just good luck.”

The ministry found that sport was not taken as a science, hence focus must now be placed on a holistic approach - diet, nutrition, multifaceted training and physiotherapy, among other scientific methods.

One of the successes of the past year was the new focus on drugs. An awakening was achieved through a workshop when it was discovered that associations were not familiar with the list of supplements that had the banned drugs.

There was also a workshop on HIV/AIDS and it was discovered that health personnel had not targeted sportsmen and women in their outreach programmes, thus the sport ministry will be collaborating with the Ministry of Health to correct the situation.

The minister met with 32 of 34 national associations, looking at the ministry’s role, what it offers to the associations and what is expected from the associations in accountability, programmes and plans.

That has helped. We’ve seen a number of the associations really beginning to comply in terms of their annual report, projections for this year, their budgetary projections, and their prioritisation of which overseas competition they wish to concentrate on,” Minister Teixeira said.

The minister said this year would be a good one for sports. Guyana will be aiming for Commonwealth Games; a German University football team and English Under-15 cricket team will visit in May, with a return visit for a local Under-15 in August; and the country will host the rugby championships and West Indies Women’s cricket in August.

This year the ministry will be releasing manuals on sports leadership and club structure and a draft discussion paper on sports policy.

We do not have a sports policy and it’s time we get one by the end of this year. I hoping by March we can start the round of consultations on the discussion paper on sports policy,” Minister Teixeira said.

Simultaneously, the ministry will be working on a five-year plan of action for sport development from a national level, which could be used as a guide for funds allocation.