Rugby player lands UK scholarship By Michael DaSilva
Stabroek News
September 25, 2002

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Teenage national rugby player Elwin Chase will leave Guyana shortly for a two-year attachment with the Birkenhead Park Rugby Football Club of Merseyside, England.

Chase’s attachment was made possible mainly by BWIA West Indian Airline which gave the Guyana Rugby Football Union (GRFU) a 50 percent discount on Chase’s return ticket.

Speaking at a press conference hosted jointly by GRFU and BWIA yesterday, the Union’s president Kit Nacimento pointed out that in July this year, the Union approached Birkenhead Park which had visited Guyana some years ago, and suggested that the two bodies organise an attachment which the English readily agreed to.

Nacimento said the GRFU had no problem in choosing Elwin as the player they would like to send to the UK if it could be arranged. He said the Union was able to work out how the 19-year-old would be financed while in England and Birkenhead Park’s rugby director contacted them (GRFU) expressing a desire to assist.

According to Nacimento, Chase will play rugby for Birkenhead Park while in England for the next two years and the club will be responsible for supporting him, “they are also looking into the possibility for him to study while there” Nacimento said, pointing out that Chase would like to study Physical Education.

Nacimento said Chase’s attachment would not have been possible without the assistance of former British High Commissioner to Guyana Edward Glover who advised on how to get a visa, and BWIA’s General Manager Dawn Murray who readily took her organisation on board.

Murray said when she was told of Chase’s achievements, she thought it was an older person but when she learnt that he was only 19 years old, she thought “this is a remarkable young man who we need to help to get to England to further his career in rugby, and come back to Guyana and give Guyana the benefit of his experience in England and inspire other youths in Guyana to achieve what he has achieved.”

Murray said she is proud to know that BWIA West Indian Airlines can assist with the development of sports in Guyana and in particular in the development of youth in sports in Guyana. Chase attended Dolphin Secondary School from 1995 to 2001 and according to Nacimento, Dolphin is one of the first schools that rugby was introduced to.

When he graduated in 2001 after obtaining five passes at the CXC examinations - English A, Mathematics, Integrated Science, Social Studies and History - he received a prize for being the most disciplined and most cooperative student in school.

He was the school’s head prefect, house captain and rugby captain. He joined Laparkan Hornets in 1997 and attended a number of camps, but it was at the Guyana Olympic Association’s Summer Camp that he was spotted by Youth and Schools development coach Laurie Adonis.

Since he got involved in the sport, Chase has represented Guyana on six occasions - Southern Caribbean Championships (1999) which Guyana hosted, Rugby World Cup Sevens Qualifying Round in Trinidad and Tobago (2000), Caribbean Under-19 Championships in Guadeloupe (2001), Rugby West Indies - Cayman Islands International Invitational Sevens (2001), Rugby World Cup 2003 qualifier in the Cayman Islands (2001) and Caribs International Invitational Sevens in Trinidad and Tobago (2001).

When he made his debut in 1999 at the Southern Caribbean Championships, he was only 16 years old.

According to Nacimento, Birkenhead Park contributed quarter of Chase’s return airfare and his (Chase) mother, Claudette Chase raised the remainder (US$400).

Nacimento lauded BWIA for their contribution to the development of sports in Guyana.

Murray said in BWIA’s 57 years as a corporate citizen in Guyana, her company has assisted many sports teams “but for this occasion, I feel very glad that we have come on board to help him (Chase).” Murray stated, adding “For Elwin to be accepted into that prestigious club in England, it speaks volumes about him, and we at BWIA also recognise that sports is a catalyst that can bind people and cultures together and share the vision of BWIA, which is bringing the Caribbean and the Caribbean people together.”

Chase thanked BWIA for their contribution and the GRFU. He also called on other youths to become a part of the rugby fraternity “ don’t bother with what people say that rugby is violent, rugby is a gentleman’s game played by hooligans” Chase stated.