This year the government will widen its community-based sport programmes, fostering better relations between villages and nurturing the development of games at the grassroots level.
According to PPP/C Parliamentary Secretary, Steve Ninvalle, the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport-run programmes serve as a catalyst to foster good relations between participating villages while nurturing the game at grassroots levels. This was among the goals of the ministry last year, in addition to exposing young people to various disciplines, training athletes, upgrading the technical skills of coaches, promoting various sporting disciplines in schools and to encourage greater female participation.
In his presentation, during the 2009 Budget debate, Ninvalle told the National Assembly that community-based programmes have “provided an ideal opportunity to foster camaraderie among players and offer a stage to build good relations between neighbouring villages.” He noted that this was the case when Annandale was invited to play during the Buxton Inter-bloc football competition, saying there was fierce but friendly competition that ended cordially. Ninvalle said the ministry has been encouraged by the response so a substantial part of the Budget is directed towards community sports. To this end, it will be teaming up with Neighbourhood Democratic Councils and community groups to restore the vibrancy of sports at the grassroots.
Last year, the Ministry launched the community-based programme with football and softball cricket, which Ninvalle said was “highly successful” and would be continued. The programmes would be diversified to include volleyball, basketball, circle tennis, and tennis this year.
Ninvalle told the Assembly that the Inter-bloc football competition, a precursor to a national inter-village competition, was held in several communities in regions 1 through 9, including Agricola, Ann’s Grove, Buxton, Beterverwagting, Grove, Hosororo, Parama-katoi, Mahdia, Mabaruma and Central Rupununi. He further said that companies such as beverage-giant Banks DIH supported the initiative, by partnering with the Ministry to support a street football competition. He added that plans are underway for street football competition in Berbice and that the Ministry is working with Banks and the Berbice Football Association towards a tentative kickoff date in March.
Meanwhile, Ninvalle also plugged the “Days of Interaction,” initiated two years ago by the Ministry to bring together young people of different religions, classes and races, as another programme that uses sport to foster social cohesion. He said the programme has been run off in regions 2, 3, 4, 5 and 10, while this year regions 6 and 7 would be included.