By Iva Wharton
The Ministry of Sport needs to do more for the development of track and field athletes, says President of the Athletics Association of Guyana (AAG), Colin Boyce.
According to Boyce while athletics falls under the purview of his association, the AAG alone cannot develop the sport.
“I want to allude to Doretta Wilson who came out in 2010 and did good at the 2010 nationals and as a result of that she trained for the Athletics of Guyana Cross Country championship in 2011. As a result of that she was selected to represent corporate Guyana at the NACRA Cross Championship”.
Once Wilson had made it to the city then the AAG could have assisted her in the area of coaching.
The AAG, he said, was hoping that it would have gotten support for the development of athletes in outlying areas who are at a disadvantage because they don’t have access to proper training facilities and coaches.
“I don’t want to refer back again to Doretta Wilson, but when she came on board and created quite a stir at the national championship so much was said even in Parliament there were plans to have Doretta Wilson access the Hinterland Scholarship Programme”. Boyce said there were plans to have the students from the hinterland areas housed at the Amerindian Hostel at Turkeyen where they would have had access to an education while at the same time gaining proper track and field training.
“It means that they would have been able to develop themselves academically and athletically, unfortunately that was not to be so”.
Samuel Kaitan, Boyce said, is another hinterland athlete with potential. According to him, Kaitan defeated Nathaniel Giddings who is one of the better long distance athletes.
“So one can safely say that with some form of expert training, medical assistance and the like that go hand in hand with training of good athletes Samuel can very well come out to be one of the better long distance athletes in the future, because he still has age on his side”.
The Rupununi, he said, was blessed with the kind of terrain for conditioning work that could put our Hinterland athletes on par with their Kenyan counterparts.
“They are not in a position to access transportation easily, so because of the area they have to travel miles on foot which gives them an advantage over their counterparts in the city in the long distance events”. Over the years athletes have been performing excellently at the schools’ championship and this, Boyce said, is not limited to the Amerindians, but athletes in other outlying areas do not gravitate to clubs.
“We at the AAG are trying our best to have coaches and scouts do talent spotting at the school championship with the view of recruiting these said athletes so that they can gravitate into clubs and continue along their athletic line to develop themselves and boost Guyana’s chances of winning medals at all junior games”.
The AAG president said it is his hope that the Sport Minister, Director of Sport and the Government by extension would see it fit to pay some attention to athletes especially from the hinterland regions.
“What we find happening is that the talent is there but it is being wasted. So what we are trying to do from the Athletics Association perspective is to have our coaches go out into the hinterland region and conduct training sessions, seminars with a view of having the persons with the knowledge to nurture the talent in the hinterland region while at the same time developing the athletes through the persons identified”. Boyce said while they might not be able to certify the persons identified as coaches, they can certify them as assistant coaches.
“But at the same time we want to broaden the coaching base, despite we have quite a number of coaches throughout the length and breadth of Guyana quite a number of them are inactive. So … we can convince the inactive coaches of the need to become active with a view of producing and nurturing the talents which abound in the hinterland regions”.
Boyce said he will nevertheless continue to have dialogue with the Director of Sport Neil Kumar who he believes has a vested interest in the development of sport.
According to him, while change may come, the length of time that it is taking for things to materialize could be viewed as a deterrent to athletes who have dreams of pursuing their athletic career.