GOA focused on training coaches in 2006
- disappointed by results of Commonwealth Games team - O'Brien By Michael DaSilva
Stabroek News
January 13, 2007

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General Secretary of the Guyana Olympic Association (GOA) Ivor O'Brien is satisfied with his association's achievements during the year 2006, but he is a bit disappointed with the performance of the Melbourne Common-wealth Games team.

In an exclusive interview with Stabroek Sport yesterday, O'Brien stated that 12 coaches and sport administrators benefited from overseas training programmes, while the GOA was instrumental in securing training scholarships for three athletes.

He said, however, he was not too pleased with the results of the Commonwealth Games team and was saddened by the fact that three members of that team had to face a disciplinary committee on their return to Guyana.

According to the long-serving General Secretary, most of the programmes in 2006 were focused on training coaches.

He pointed out that athletic coach Linden Wilson received a three-month scholarship for a Physical Education and Sports programme in Hungary and in addition, there were coaches who were trained through the Pan American Sports Organisation programme.

He said Gokarn Ramdhani, president of the Guyana Badminton Assoc-iation benefited from a training programme in Peru, Robert Chisolm attended a track and field coaching stint in Mexico, Timothy McIntosh attended a hockey training programme in Argentina, table tennis player and coach Idi Lewis attended a training course in Trinidad, Guyana Cycle Federation president Hector Edwards attended a training programme in the United States, boxing coach Clifton Moore attended a training programme in Mexico, squash coach/player Robert Fernandes attended a training programme in El Salvador and Christopher Chaves went to a training programme in Puerto Rico.

"We also had people who went on administrative courses such as Guyana Volleyball Federation president Lennox Shuffler who attended a Sports For All course in Cuba and is currently working on a programme which he is to submit to the GOA. This programme will be passed on to Olympic Solidarity for approval and funding. President of the Guyana Bar Association Kashir Khan attended a Sports and Law programme in Uruguay and Dr. Karen Pilgrim went to a Women in Sports programme in Mexico.

O'Brien said apart from the many programmes for coaches and administrators, the GOA was able to secure scholarships for three athletes - Cleveland Forde, Aliann Pompey and Marian Burnett.

Forde is currently at the Kip Keino High Altitude Training Centre in Kenya.

He explained that the GOA started to finance Forde's scholarship, though some months they were not sure where the money was coming from, but eventually GOA president K. Juman-Yassin met Kip Keino personally and arrangements were made for Forde to train there. "Kip Keino even came back with a positive answer before we were ready to send Forde there, but we didn't mean to miss out on this and he went before he was even ready and we eventually got a scholarship from Olympic Solidarity who's paying the money directly to the Kip Keino Centre. Forde is also doing a computer technology programme at the centre and Olympic Solidarity is paying that cost also."

He said training for Burnette and Pompey in the USA is being financed by Olympic Solidarity.

O'Brien said also that he was happy that the Rudolph Harper long jump facility at the Thomas Lands YMCA was being utilized.

"The Guyana Teachers Union benefited from it when they staged the national schools track and field championships in November, and we're proud of how it is being utilized," O'Brien stated.

He noted the achievements of the squash team at the Central American and Caribbean Games as well as Forde's performance at the South American Games.

The squash team won gold, silver and bronze each at the CAC Games through Guyana's world-rated player Nicolette Fernandes who won the women's singles, before teaming up with Max Weithers to claim a silver medal in the mixed doubles competition. The ladies' team secured a bronze medal in the team event.

Forde on the other hand won the 5,000-metre race at the South American Games and followed up this performance by winning silver in the men's 1,500-metre event.

"Our performance at the Commonwealth Games was not so good in terms of results, but a lot of athletes made their personal best times, but what was also very disappointing was that three persons ended up before the disciplinary committee."

Noting the other achievements of the GOA in 2006, O'Brien said the Olympic Day jog was well attended and like the previous two years, over 500 persons participated.

Asked if there was anything the GOA had hoped to do but did not accomplish, O'Brien said one area they did not cover was the local training programmes for coaches. "We hadn't any because we're reviewing the entire situation. We've been training coaches all along and we're not too sure. So what we did, we've asked Philip Fernandes (Guyana Hockey Board president) to assist us with a data base of coaches so that we can follow their performance and their progranmmes, among other things, to see if they are wasting our time, so we held back that programme last year and it may come later this year because we would like Philip to come up with whatever report. So that's one of the programmes on our calendar we didn't do."

O'Brien also pointed out that the GOA held a sport administrators course. "It is the feeling that as every year goes by we're getting a higher level of participants, better quality - it is the feelings of even the resource persons."

Pan Am Games

Asked about the association's plans for 2007, the General Secretary stated that their main focus would be the Pan American Games which were scheduled for Brazil in July. He informed Stabroek Sport that the GOA had received some assistance again from Olympic Solidarity and this would be used for training teams to go to the Pan Am Games.

"Some associations are benefiting from this fund leading up to the games in July, and we hope to have a reasonable representation in Brazil," O'Brien indicated.

He said the Dynamic Women in Sports body headed by Guyana Netball Association president Maxine Parris-Aaron had submitted a proposal for the training of sport councillors. "We're hoping to work with a programme like that and in addition to that, we're speaking with the Reds Perreira Sports Foundation. We're hoping to work with a couple of programmes with them also."