Every Sunday scores of Guyanese travel south of Georgetown to picnic or relax at the creeks and resorts along the Soesdyke/Linden Highway.
In spite of the high cost of living, many forget their financial woes for that period to have a frolicking time eating, drinking, being merry and enjoying water sports in the creeks.
Even some of the major fashion and stage shows are now becoming an integral part of the activities and many have been cashing in financially among them transportation providers, food vendors and brewery companies.
This new phenomenon has put a dent on spectator participation in sport around Guyana’s capital, Georgetown and its environs.
The regular weekend cricket league matches have been suffering for years with very few spectators attending these games.
In some cases there are just the players, umpires and one or two ground staff visible at matches.
Even the Sunday football league matches have seen a drastic decline in spectator support.
Just a few years back first-division league football was so appealing that hundreds of fans would walk to and from matches.
It was not uncommon to find football fans trekking through Cemetery Road on the way back to their homes in South Georgetown, while the Kitty/Campbellville supporters often utilized Vlissengen Road to and from the Georgetown Football Club (GFC) venue.
For those fans it was a joy not a chore to walk to and from the venue .to support their favourite teams including Western Tigers, Camptown, Pele, Santos, Kitty Rangers, Thomas United, Conquerors, Beacons, GDF and Police just to name a few.
Most of these teams still play but where the fans are now, is anyone’s guess.
Perhaps, the reason for the decline in spectators at these events can be linked to the lack of proper facilities.
Recently either by accident or design there was a flurry of sporting events which could turn the tide from its present state to a renewed appeal for sporting activities.
Those who visited Thomas Lands and its environs would have been overwhelmed by the number of sporting activities taking place simultaneously. Ground and pavilions were fully occupied with participants and spectators alike, a deviation from the norm.
It was a warm feeling to see the National Park buzzing with several activities and most of the journalists who were out covering these assignments would tell you that it was a “Tough Sunday.”
From an international 10Km road race to a Rugby Sevens tournament with an international flavour, to a Cavalcade of Sports to the National Chess championships not to mention a Scrabble tournament – it all happened in the Thomas Lands area.
The inaugural Guyana Olympic Association (GOA) “Sports for Life” programme at the National Park attracted athletes from several sport disciplines including volleyball, karate, weightlifting, track and field, blind cricket, hockey, tennis, cycling and netball.
Some picnickers at the National Park were quite intrigued having been exposed to so many sporting activities in one day, maybe even trespassing on their quiet time.
Then there was the South American 10Km athletic road race from Police Sports Club ground, Eve Leary to Conversation Tree on the East Coast Demerara and back that attracted 64 runners from Brazil, Guyana, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago with the Brazilians dominating by winning the men and women’s events.
While the race was in progress the National Closed chess championship was taking place at the Ocean Spray Hotel on Vlissengen Road, Dominoes and Cricket competitions were being held at the Everest Cricket Club ground and scrabble at Malteenoes Sports Club.
There were also the regular club cricket matches.
The Carifesta Sports Complex and NIS grounds on Carifesta Avenue hosted athletics sports but the top crowd puller was at the rugby field in the National Park where the Yamaha Caribs Rugby Club celebrated its 15th Anniversary with much fanfare and the fun was as pulsating as any fete at a creek or resort.
The Trinidad and Tobago over-35 team and the visiting Caribbean Cougars of the United States were also part of the fun.
We need many more such activities to re-energize Guyanese’ appreciation of sporting activities and to support them.
While I have no grouse with those who want to travel outside of the city for some fun, I also urge you to spend some time to support community sporting events.
Let’s start from this weekend. Support a cricket, football, basketball match in your area or any other activity and help them to grow.
Public support is necessary and now is the time for you to play your part in the development of the nation’s young sportsmen and sportswomen.