A deafening silence Our Opinion
Stabroek News
July 7, 2003

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There has been a deafening silence from the government on the issue of Cricket World Cup 2007.

For several weeks many articles on this historic event have graced the pages of this newspaper as well as other media.

Sportscope has sought to get a comment from the Minister responsible for sport on several occasions on this issue which may have national significance, but has been unsuccessful.

An event of this magnitude can possibly give Guyana’s economy a big boost as tourists who visit this country will bring with them much needed foreign exchange.

In some countries sports play a significant role in generating economic activity and growth. Football clubs in Spain, Italy and the UK are examples of how millions can be made from sporting events. Professional athletes like basketball players in the NBA, golfers and lawn tennis players also exemplify the power of sport to change lives and also to contribute meaningfully to a country’s economy.

For this nation, co-operation on the issue by all stake-holders may be the balm to assuage our seemingly divided and fractured society.

On Saturday, World Cup 2007 boss Chris Dehring was scheduled to address the Caricom Heads of Government conference in Jamaica with regards to the hosting of this major event.

It is incumbent on our president Bharrat Jagdeo, who is participating in the conference, to on his return, make a definitive statement to the nation on this issue. For far too long the government has been silent on this important matter even as the governments of Trinidad & Tobago, Jamaica, Antigua & Barbuda, Barbados and others have spoken publicly on their government’s plans in order that their country be in the running to host matches.

It seems as though the complete opposite is happening in our beloved land. The question nevertheless remains, why is it our government is lagging behind, seemingly lethargic and listless on this issue?

Sportscope is of the view that if Guyana does not qualify to host matches during World Cup 2007 then it would have been an opportunity gone a-begging to make sure the country shares in spin-off economic benefits which no doubt will arise from an event of this magnitude.

Sports tourism is a concept the Caribbean is eagerly trying to market in recent times. Guyana offers its own unique brand of eco-tourism which offers visitors something different.

World Cup 2007 is a beacon of light which should instead of seemingly blinding our policy holders, enlighten their views on what it means to our country’s economy in years to come.

With tourists flocking to our rain forests and celebrating in the beauty of our unspoiled interior, tremendous economic ventures may be in the offing.

The time is now for our government to make a definitive statement on whether or not Guyana will be taking steps to beef up its infrastructure and other services in order to be competitive when the bidding to host World Cup matches takes place.

Guyana Cricket Board (GCB) president Chetram Singh has indicated the possibility of two main options, both in need of government impetus to see the light of day. The merger of the Georgetown Cricket Club (GCC) and the Georgetown Football Club (GFC), (which has been approved by both organizations), and the building of a modern all purpose stadium at Liliendaal next to the Caricom headquarters are the two current options that exist.

A local World Cup committee has also been established headed by Norman McLean.

Both options look to be viable but our people need to be more vigilant in order to `police’ our interests as a nation.

Sportscope would like to humbly suggest that some of the billions collected from the local lottery be invested in someway to make either proposal a reality.

For decades Guyanese have lived with broken promises of a national stadium but this government has a golden opportunity now to make a significant statement about its vision for sports, and in so doing leave a lasting legacy for years to come.

The nation waits with bated breath for a pronouncement on Guyana’s intentions/plans as regards World Cup 2007 when the president returns from Jamaica.

Sportscope is optimistic that government will commit in one way or another and come on board this national venture and give its wholehearted support and blessings.