Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports Dr Frank Anthony wants the National Sports Policy to be approved in parliament by September.
The National Sports Policy is yet to be completed and, at the moment, the draft document is with national sports associations, sporting organizations and other interested parties.
In a telephone interview with Stabroek Sport, Dr Anthony said that he expected the draft document to be widely discussed.
The ministry is currently in the process of making changes to the fifth draft of the document to strengthen a number of areas that were not included in previous drafts.
Those areas include the establishment of a sports accreditation body; the promotion of non-traditional sports; collaboration between the government and sport organisations in bidding to host international sporting events; the establishment of a special fund to facilitate training for elite athletes and the implementation of a long-term athletic development programme.
The establishment of a national anti-doping body, the formation of a national sports medicine association and a national sports academy are among a number of proposals to be found in the draft document for the National Sports Policy.
And on an optimistic note Dr Anthony told Stabroek Sport that he expected the Sports Resource Centre to be established as early as this month end.
The centre will initially be housed at the Cliff Anderson Sports Hall, after which it will be integrated into the National Sports Academy.
Dr Anthony said that Guyana does not have an anti-doping association but the government pays an affiliation fee each year to the World Anti-Doping Associa-tion (WADA) in order to allow the country’s athletes to participate in international sporting activities, hence the need for Guyana to abide by international rules governing doping in sports.
“If we don’t pay our affiliation fees our athletes would not be able to take part in international sporting events,” he said.
Dr Anthony also disclosed that Guyana was affiliated with a regional body for this reason, though that body was not as developed as WADA.
He said there are a number of persons with the capacity to serve as resource persons when activating a local doping association including some who received anti-doping training for Cricket World Cup 2007.
He also said that there was need for specialised training in sports medicine to deal with the health and well-being of sportsmen and women.
Dr Anthony posited that the development of athletes should not be based only on a person’s natural ability but it should also be part of a policy hence the need for a sports resource centre.
He said the sports policy document would include a recommendation for the establishment of a sports academy which would operate in partnership with national sports associations.
Courses would be conducted throughout the year and would involve athletes, coaches and officials among others.
Dr Anthony plans to establish the sports academy this year and the first step, he said, would be the establishment of the sports resource centre which would be equipped with computers and internet facilities to give athletes and coaches a chance to view videos and DVDs of past sporting events for learning and coaching.
He said that as soon as the rehabilitation of the National Sports Commission (NSC) building on Woolford Avenue was completed the resource centre would be transferred there.
The Ministry of Public Works has been given the contract to rehabilitate the NSC building.
It is also expected that the NSC building would house the National Sports Academy.
The recommendation for the establishment of an accreditation body for sports officials was necessary due to the need to standardise the levels of coaching and officiating and other duties carried out by sports officials in a bid to develop sports incrementally.
Dr Anthony said it was also necessary for national sports associations to work in collaboration with government to attract international sporting events here in a more structured approach to the bidding process.
He noted that the national sports associations of Canada in conjunction with the Canadian government had already lobbied to host the Pan American Games in 2015 adding that he feels that the bidding process in Guyana should be reflected in the policy document.
He likened lobbying for international competitions to be staged here to selling a sports tourism product.
Dr Anthony also felt there is a need to develop the non-traditional sporting sectors to add to the sports tourism product.
The non-traditional sectors include canoeing, mountaineering, outdoor trekking and archery among others which attract a different clientele.
“These areas must be reflected in the policy document,” he opined.
Dr Anthony says there is need to establish a special fund for elite athletes to ensure full time training.
The fund, to be called the Elite Sports Development Fund, will be set up with a grant from Central Govern-ment via the Consolidated Fund and will be supplemented by an annual subvention catered for in the National Budget, Dr Anthony disclosed.
The fund will be used primarily to enable an enhanced system of training and subsidise the cost associated with participating in international events for teams and individuals who are on bona fide duty representing Guyana internationally.
Speaking about the proposal for long term training from the nursery to the professional level, Dr Anthony said that Guyana could pattern themselves after Canada’s programme where sports is seen as a way of life and training at various stages in life is catered for.