Newly elected president of the Guyana Association of Scrabble Players (GASP) Leon Belony said although one vacancy still remains it has already identified four areas of focus and is hosting a charity match next month.
Belony was elected at a special AGM held on Sunday to fill four vacancies that remained after the 2011 AGM. All but one vacancy remains, that of assistant secretary treasurer. “But we will be a fully functioning body despite the one vacancy,” he said.
The executive also comprises national scrabble champion Abigail McDonald, who was elected vice president; Frederick Collins, secretary; Collin Chichester, treasurer; Moen Gafoor, PRO and Prudence Edwards, organising secretary. Ulric Harris, Orlando Michael and Wakefield Skeete, were elected committee members.
McDonald said a second AGM was not called sooner as the association was working on hosting a successful Caribbean Championship, which was held earlier this year. “So now that we have the opportunity with the Caribbean Championship out of the way we decided to have our AGM.”
According to Belony, the association plans to focus on three areas: increasing its membership, getting the clubs aspect of scrabble materialized and starting its schools championship. “As it is right now competitions are only held by GASP for GASP members, but ideally we would like to have clubs under the auspices of GASP hosting competitions too,” he said.
Regarding the schools competition, Belony said Digicel has already committed to providing sponsorship. The championships should start next year. McDonald explained that GASP submitted a proposal to Digicel and received a positive response and it is now awaiting a formal commitment. At age 27, Belony is the youngest person to have been elected to the GASP presidency. While he is excited about the opportunity, he acknowledged that it does come with responsibilities.
“I can tell you I definitely feel a great sense of responsibility given what we went through in terms of not having a fully functioning committee. I think the public will be looking at us to see what [is] new, different or how better we can make scrabble in Guyana. So while it is a lot of pressure I also accept the responsibility and we will be able to live up to expectations or even exceed them,” he said.
Both Belony and McDonald said the executive is a mix of age ranges and experience but they have chosen to give the younger members the opportunity to run the association while they assume the position of mentors.
The first competition under the new executive is set for December 9 at the Malteenoes Sports Club. The competition is a charitable one which will see the entrance fee being matched by GASP and donated to a charity chosen by the executive. This will be the first time that the GASP would be hosting such an event, McDonald said.