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One definite choice for the Junior Sportsman-of-the-Year should be rugby’s Elwin Chase.
The young player’s performance was so outstanding, that he won himself a place in an English team last year.
Elwin is on a two-year attachment with Birkenhead Park Rugby Football Club in Merseyside, England. The club is providing accommodation and to offset personal costs, arranged casual part-time work.
Chase made immediate impact on the club. He started out playing for the fourth team, but rose to a reserve position on the first team, since joining in September.
The young player’s performance was so good that Chase was placed in a rugby academy and it is now possible for him to continue his studies in physical education.
That attachment capped a remarkable rise in sport and academic pursuit, sometimes under trying circumstances for the young athlete.
Chase’s father died when Elwin was just nine years old, leaving three boys and one girl for Claudette Chase to raise in Albouystown, while working at Sanata Textiles.
When time came to go to secondary school, there was no money to buy his school requirements. Young Elwin sought employment at Humphrey’s Bakery and bought everything for himself to attend Dolphin’s Secondary.
“He sent himself out from the first term to secondary school,” Claudette recalled.
When Claudette went to work, some Indian (she stressed) neighbours kept an eye on him.
“The bottom line is he never gave me any problems. He never got any particular licks,” Claudette disclosed.
And when the time came for extra-curricular activity, Elwin was introduced to the manly game of rugby.
Chase is the product of the Guyana Rugby Football Union’s youths and schools development programme in the sport, with impressive credentials. He graduated from Dolphin Secondary School with six subjects at CXC. He also served as Head Prefect, House Captain and Rugby Captain and won the graduation prize for being the Most Disciplined and Most Cooperative student.
The young player joined Laparkan Hornets in 1997 and on his own attended the Guyana Olympic Association Physical Fitness Sports Camp in April, 1998 and went on to the GOA August holiday camp that year. The following year he attended the Courts August holiday camp, then the Georgetown’s Women’s Junior Chambers workshop.
At age 16 and still at school, the April 26, 1983-born was the youngest player in the Southern Caribbean Championships staged here, wearing his first National cap and was capped five other times. He was even selected in the West Indies Sevens team for the Cayman Islands International tournament.
Just before departure late last year, GRFU president Kit Nascimento said: “In his very short three or four years since he started playing rugby, Elwin has made remarkable progress as an athlete and a rugby player. The GRFU had no hesitation in choosing him for the attachment in England.”
The attachment is part of the GRFU programme - a means of developing young players to another level of the game internationally.
Birkenhead Park was so interested in the initiative that it contributed 250 pounds Sterling towards the airfare, but the GRFU still needed US$400, which his mother raised.
“I tried my best and feel very proud of him,” Claudette Chase said.
All Guyana could be proud of him as the Junior Sportsman-of-the-Year.