Sport is an important economic tool in today’s world and is not only important for social cohesion.
So said Minister of Finance, Ashni Singh, while addressing the 2006 national sports awardees, sports administrators and special invitees at the 2006 National Sports Commission (NSC) Sports Awards Ceremony at the National Cultural Centre on Friday night.
Singh, who deputised for Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports Dr. Frank Anthony, said the government recognized the importance of sport not just for its physical capabilities but for its powerful ability to unite a nation.
He pointed to the huge amount of publicity this country will receive in a matter of days when the Super Eight matches of the 2007 Cricket World Cup competition starts.
“Guyana would be on the eyes of the world with the number of people travelling to the country, or following the cricket through the media,” Singh declared.
He reminded that the government was working on a national sports plan which will focus on community-based sports because the government sees community sports as an important tool to promote social integration and to keep young people away from the negative actors in society.
Director of Sports Neil Kumar in his report on the year 2006 said the year was an extremely successful one for sports.
Kumar said the NSC was highly motivated by the government’s appointment of Dr. Anthony as Minister of Sports and that Anthony’s appointment had certainly resulted in new ideas.
“He has stimulated the commission members and staff to redouble their efforts in advancing the development of sports in this country,” Kumar stated.
Kumar said the NSC met with all the national sports associations where Dr. Anthony called for a five-year developmental sports programme and a national sports policy.
Three sub-committees have since been established to work towards set objectives.
Kumar said the NSC was working on active programmes for the various sports disciplines in schools, clubs, regions and communities across the country with both short term and long term objectives.
Kumar said the NSC, its coaches and sports organizers had developed a healthy relationship with many of the stakeholders in Guyana which was proving to be a vital asset and was producing tangible and encouraging results.
“The National Sports Commission, with its involvement with the national sports associations, schools, clubs and communities at large, play a crucial role in providing opportunities which are desperately needed by our people,” Kumar said.
He also pointed out that the government had allocated $128m to the National Sports Commission for the development of sports.
“With this budgeted sum, opportunities will be created in order to nurture talent and bring ability to the fore,” Kumar declared.
He also revealed that the NSC had been understaffed, but informed that the NSC was in the process of employing new people to fortify its efforts for the further development of sport.
Kumar said the NSC was expecting two Cuban coaches to assist with boxing and track and field in addition to a Chinese coach for table tennis.
After noting the achievements and short-comings of the various associations, Kumar said the NSC would be working in a more organized way with the Guyana Olympic Association (GOA) and the Ministry of Education for the further development of sports in Guyana.
He said now that sports was included in the school curriculum and was offered as a subject at CXC, it was clear that much more money will be spent in the school system for a more all-round development of students. “We will be focusing on the improvement of training and related facilities as well as the provision of more coaches and organisers,” Kumar promised.
Awards were presented to squash player Nicolette Fernandes (Sportswoman-of-the-Year), track athlete Cleveland Forde (Sportsman-of-the-Year) who is currently in Kenya preparing for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, golf player Christine Sukhram (Runner-up Sportswoman-of-the-Year), professional boxer based in Australia Gary St. Clair (Runner-up Sportsman-of-the-Year), table tennis player Trenace Lowe (Junior Sportswoman-of-the-Year), track athlete Alika Morgan (Runner-up Junior Sportswoman-of-the-Year), swimmer Niall Roberts (Junior Sportsman-of-the-Year), cricketer Gajanand Singh (Runner-up Junior Sportsman-of-the-Year), Chronicle photographer Winston Oudkerk (Sports Journalist/Photographer-of-the-Year), NCN’s Leeron Brummell (Sports Journalist-of-the-Year non-print), Kaieteur News’ Rawle Welch (Sports Journalist-of-the-Year print), Guyana Rugby Football Union (Sports Association-of-the-Year), Guyana Amateur Swimming Association (Most Improved Sports Association), Dr Karen Pilgrim (Female Sports Personality-of-the -Year), Joseph `Reds’ Perreira (Male Sports Personality-of-the-Year), cricket coach Albert Smith (Sports Coach-of-the-Year), Guyana national Twenty/20 cricket team (Sports Team-of-the-Year) and Taruna Patrick (Outstanding Sports Person with disability).