– Government backs initiative
By Rawle Toney
President of the Guyana Amateur Basketball Federation (GABF), retired Col. Godwin McPherson has said that Guyana will be sending in its bid to host the male and female Caribbean Basketball Confederation (CBC) championships today.
It was disclosed at the last CBC Annual General Meeting which was held in St Lucia earlier this month that they were still awaiting firm proposals from their affiliated federations to host the games.
Meanwhile, Director of Sports Neil Kumar has pledged the Government’s fullest support in hosting the games. Speaking to Stabroek Sport yesterday, Kumar said that he has spoken to the GABF president and assured him that he would make the resources readily available to host the event.
Kumar said: “I spoke with Mr. McPherson this morning (yesterday) and I told him that Government through my office will support Guyana hosting the games. I told him that we had recently done some work on the Cliff Anderson Sports Hall during last year and we would make whatever adjustment is needed to help them host the games.”
Kumar noted that while McPherson had some concerns about practice time and the use of other facilities he assured him that he would make them available to the basketball federation.
“It is not the first time that Guyana will host a big sporting event, since we have done so with distinction in the past,” the veteran sports director said, making reference to 2007 Cricket World Cup and last year’s Caribbean Festival of Arts (CARIFESTA).
So far, only one country reportedly, the BVI, has informally indicated that they will host the games, but only the men’s competition and according to CBC president Usie Richards, the bid must be done in writing to the CBC Secretary General Sabrina Mitchell of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
McPherson had stated recently that Guyana would not participate if the games were to be held in any US territory. This, he said, was to avoid the local players facing any possibility of having their visa applications turned down by the US Embassy and also to save his federation from having to deal with the usually flustered players.
In 2007, when the championships was held in Puerto Rico, a group of local players were denied visas which resulted in Guyana being represented by an overseas-based Guyanese team. That team finished in a disappointing eighth place, while the women’s team who had finished in third place, was later disqualified.
Guyana’s first participation in the CBC tournament in 1981 saw them finishing third in the men’s category. In 1994, the men’s team finished second and the women’s team fifth. The women’s team of 1996 claimed championship honours when the games were held in Trinidad and Tobago while the men’s team finished a creditable third.
In 2000 when the championships was held in Barbados, Guyana returned after a four-year absence from the tournament producing only a male team which finished third.
Guyana first hosted the games in 1981, then in 1988 and 1994 and played host to the junior CBC championship in 1998. However, the games has not returned to “the Land of Many Waters” since, purportedly because of the lack of collaboration between Government and the basketball federation.
But this time around with the two bodies showing great camaraderie, Guyana should see some of the best players in the Caribbean and the world compete for the Region’s most prestigious basketball title.