Unfulfilled promises By Michael DaSilva
Stabroek News
January 11, 2002

Since assuming office, both the Minister of Youth, Culture and Sport Gail Teixeira and the Director of Sport Neil Kumar, have made numerous promises pertaining to the development of sports in Guyana. Unfortunately most have not yet been realised.

Local cyclists were promised that the sport would make a forward move in 2001, because of a plan to construct a 500-metre velodrome track at the controversial D'urban Park venue.

This promise was made by Minister Teixeira, while addressing young cyclists at the completion of National Sports Commission coach Hassan Mohammed's annual two-month clinic in September 2000.Teixeira had said then that a survey for drainage and irrigation works was at the time being carried out on land identified by Mohammed and a delegation from the Guyana Cycling Federation which had met with her.

Teixeira had stated then that D'urban Park was initially identified for shopping malls and offices but late President Dr. Cheddi Jagan felt that the area should be dedicated for sports and recreation. Unfortunately, drainage and irrigation works are still to get underway while part of the site is currently being used for dumping waste.

Director of Sports Neil Kumar who was also present, had echoed what Teixeira had said in 2000 that "Guyana will get a velodrome".

The Minister was not the only government functionary to promise a velodrome, since in 1993 former Minister of Education, Dale Bisnauth, who had the responsibility for sports, had stated that before senior council Donald Robinson, a life member of the Guyana Cycling Federation attained his 64th birthday, a velodrome would have been built.Presently Robinson is very close to or is 70 years old.

Kumar, for his part, in 1994 promised that the NSC's three- stage cycling road race would become an international event from 1995, since his ministry would be inviting other Caribbean cyclists to participate. To date, the NSC has never even sent an invitation to the regional bodies.

Kumar in 1998 had also promised to give every school in Guyana a tennis table and a coach. That year the Guyana Table Tennis Association, as part of its 50th anniversary donated table tennis tables to youth clubs and schools to mark the occasion. "This year table tennis would be the priority sport in Guyana," Kumar had declared. To date, the NSC has only one coach - Sydney Christophe - in its employ. It is noteworthy also that Minister Teixeira in June of 2001, made another promise for the development of cycling, but is still to deliver. That one, unlike the velodrome, is less costly and only requires a procurement officer from her ministry and about $50,000 cash. When the minister met with individual sports associations last year, she told Guyana Cycling Federation officials - Ulric Pollydore and Hassan Mohammed - that her ministry will provide the GCF with 12 BMX cycles to assist with the development of the sport. Neither the GCF or Mohammed has been able to acquire the cycles to date. In 1997, at the conclusion of that year's three- stage cycling road race, Kumar told cycling officials unofficially, that money has been budgeted for the construction of a velodrome and inquired where they (officials) would want to have the facility constructed. The officials and cycling enthusiasts present at what used to be burn out Ministry of Housing car park, Homestretch Avenue, immediately pointed to the area next to the Cliff Anderson Sports Hall and indicated that's where they wanted the facility. Nothing has so far come out of that unofficial announcement. During an informal gathering in 2000, Kumar promised cycling officials to assist in acquiring what used to be the Providence cinder track. Nothing has been forthcoming so far.