By Jeff Trotman
The Mackenzie High School (MHS) student who comes up with the winning submission for the name of the MHS girls football team will receive $10,000.
Victor Wright, a director of the Guyana Sports Development Foundation (GSDF), made the announcement on February 19th during an address to a special assembly of the school that was called to facilitate the donation of soccer boots and gear to the school for its female team to participate in the upcoming
fourth edition of the GSDF Scotiabank/ Pepsi Football schools tournament.
Noting that leading professional teams have call names such as the Chicago “Bulls”, Wright said a competition will be held in which every student could suggest a name and a panel will select the winning entry.
In beginning his address, Wright said it was a special day for him as he recalled that he was in the first form one of Mackenzie. (The school was started in September 1959 on new premises as a replacement for Echols High School, which was the only secondary school in Linden from the late 1940s until it was replaced by MHS in 1959).
“The tremendous spirit that you have is very warming. I wish I could record it and play for all the students that have attended this school because this is fantastic,” Wright said as he referred to the cultural event of song, dance and dramatic poetry by the students in the packed auditorium that preceded his presentation. He added: “In the years I attended the Mackenzie High School, I’ve never seen an awesome assembly as I have seen today.
The school’s Principal, Roberts, in introducing Wright at the special assembly, pointed out that Wright “is an ex student of the school, who has lived abroad for several years and has now returned to Guyana to live here again and since he has returned from the US this individual has approached Mackenzie High School and has been doing some real fantastic work”.
Noting that Wright is no stranger in this realm, Roberts said: “Up to last year, he was instrumental in encouraging the school to participate in the Scotiabank Football competition of which you know we’ve performed very well. Today, he has taken it to another level. That is, we have in front of us some of the football gear that was recently presented to us through him from the Mackenzie High School overseas alumni and this gentleman was instrumental in organizing all of it.” Roberts also noted that some of the students have already received their football gear.
Wright said the presentation of soccer gear is to facilitate appropriate preparation and attire for MHS representative teams to participate in the Scotiabank/ Pepsi Football schools tournament, which is in its fourth year and MHS “has been one of the very strong schools in the tournament”.
He, however, pointed out that the presentation of soccer gear on the day was symbolic of a big stride being taken by the school – that of being represented by a girls’ soccer team for the very first time. This announcement evoked prolonged resounding applause and whoops of appreciation from the more than three hundred students, mainly girls, in the auditorium, which prompted Wright to suggest that with such support the team will do great things for Mackenzie High School. He, however, pointed out that the girls’ team has not engaged in previous soccer competitions and although their supporters expect them to win, “it’s probably impossible because all the schools they will be playing against have previous experience”.
He said that he has been attending some of the team’s practice sessions and the enthusiasm of the players and their commitment to representing the school have assured him that even if the school does not win this year, the team is one that would have to be reckoned with in the years to come.
He said the presentation was made possible through an appeal to the overseas alumni of the school. Noting that the donors responded readily, Wright said: “You have to understand that there are … thousands, who have passed through this school since it started in 1959 in this building (the auditorium), who are interested in your success whether it’s in sports or academics.”
He added: “We could bring people on this stage from every walk of life – doctors, lawyers – that come from right here,” who attained their aspirations through “dedication, hard work and being very, very ambitious.”
Noting that the team really needs moral support, Wright called on the school body to support the team in all its matches “because that is the kind of encouragement that is going to allow them to really succeed”. In the same breath, he told the assembly not to forget the male soccer team, who are champions and is expected to win the competition again, this year. In giving a background to the GSDF, Wright proudly stated that almost ninety per cent of the directors of the foundation are former MHS students and although the organization is looking at developing sports in Guyana in general, he is a little biased towards MHS.
He noted that visitors to the school complain about trash being left throughout the school compound, which suggests that the students do not care about the school. Saying that it’s a bad reflection on the students, Wright said that he went to the St. Rose’s High School on the previous day “and their place was immaculate”.
He then charged the MHS students to take care of their school. “You have to present a great image. Your teachers work hard. Your parents work hard and we, who love this school want it to be a place where it’s almost reverent, where you care about this place so much that if you see some trash on the ground you’ll pick it up and put it in the garbage can. Make the picture that you see of your school and others see, something wonderful to behold.”
Wright added that the MHS overseas alumni can get people to contribute to the development of the school and it will be doing a number of other projects for the school but it is imperative for the student body to do things as well.
He said the GSDA believes that with a sound mind and a sound body, students can go far in life. “We feel that having schools participate in sports is going to be the key in making this country a much better one, a stronger one and we are here today to assist soccer in schools. But that’s not the only sport. We want to do tennis … everything.”