Some of the major details have been worked out such as dates and venues, but the Guyana Teachers Union (GTU) and the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport still seem light years apart on just how preparations are proceeding ahead of the National Schools Athletics, Cycling and Swimming Championships. scheduled for November 12-16 at the National Stadium at Providence, with the Long Jump being held at the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) ground, and the Swimming at the Castellanni Pool, the championships will bring together the cream of this country’s student athletes for a few days of intense competition with each participating district targeting bragging rights.
But while the GTU tells Stabroek Sport that “we are on the ball” sources in the Sport Ministry have expressed “shock” at the GTU’s budget for the event.
GTU Sports Secretary Colleen Liddell and Competition Technical Manager Mayfield Taylor-Trim told Stabroek Sport that almost all the entries of athletes and officials from the various districts had been submitted with the exception of Regions Eight and Nine.
“We will begin with a 10K road race on the 13th, a 25K cycle race and the swimming all on that date,” Liddell said.
She added that approximately nine million dollars was budgeted overall for the championships and said while the GTU was still to reach this target, progress was being made. “We were given just about three million dollars from the Ministry of Education, GT&T has chipped in with two hundred thousand and Banks DIH is also considering a proposal from us and we are to meet on Monday to finalize this, while we have also sent out letters inviting bids for the concession stands at the stadium,” Liddell said.
She added that the National Stadium along with some part of the opening ceremony was the contribution of the Ministry of Sport. But Taylor-Trim said there were some logistical problems regarding getting some athletes and officials to the championships.
“Some regions have indicated that they do not have the facilities or funds to transport their respective teams to the championships including Regions Two, Seven and Eight,” Taylor-Trim said. GTU President Colwyn King said the Union had approached President Bharrat Jagdeo for assistance in this regard. “We have made contact with the president, he intervened last year and we are hoping for the same this year, but it just shows that these districts have not planned properly and have no regard for sports.
“We have just got to try and pull all the pieces together and if we do that then all will be fine,” said King. He added that the GTU was looking to fill the stadium each night of the championships with events going until 19:00 h each night. This, he said, was possible through the provision of light-generating sets from construction company B.K International.
But, apparently the Ministry of Sport sees the preparations in a different light. “The budget this year was ridiculous and the Ministry of Sport has only seen a copy of it from the Ministry of Education. There was no provision for transportation, meals or accommodation for the children only for the officials. There were three meetings with the ministry and it was real chaos,” one Ministry of Sport source told Stabroek Sport.
The source fumed: “the budget was filled with things like meals and transportation and allowances for officials, what about the children?” A call to the Department of Sport revealed that Director of sport Neil Kumar was still not in receipt of a copy of the budget proposal. But when contacted Kumar said despite the problems he was willing to throw the full support of the ministry behind this country’s premier student athletics meet. The championships will feature almost one hundred events each day with the top performers at the various levels of school competition going head to head.