The first phase of construction for a permanent building to house the Guyana Karate College (GKC) will commence next week at Liliendaal, East Coast Demerara.
This was disclosed yesterday by vice president Andrew de Abreau and deputy and acting Chief Instructor Jeffrey Wong of the GKC after Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport Dr. Frank Anthony turned the sod where the facility is expected to be built.
The GKC will start constructing the fence around the one-acre plot of land just off the Railway Embankment at Liliendaal.
The next phase will see the commencement of work on the actual Japanese style dojo, which is expected to house over 100 karatekas currently enrolled at the college’s temporary facility on the top floor of the Malteenoes Sports Club (MSC) pavilion.
According to De Abreau and Wong, the construction of the dojo will start at a later date since the executive body of the college is still deliberating on which company to select.
According to the duo, the body is screening bids with the aim of seeing which company’s bid falls within range of the GKC’s budget.
The estimated cost to build the dojo is $50 million after it was first estimated that it would have cost $80 million. The executive body has projected a two-year span for completion of the building but they are also “hoping with some luck from some more corporate bodies” it will be completed in a year.
The GKC has already raised over $8 million ever since acquiring the 99-year lease of the site from the government in late 2008. When the land was made available, according to Eighth Dan Chief Instructor of the GKC, Frank Woon-A-Tai there were some stipulations outlined by the government.
One of these was to show evidence of having the finance to start the project. Woon-A-Tai was quoted as saying then, “The President [Bharrat Jagdeo] has given us a piece of land at Liliendaal but it was conditional that we could show evidence that we could begin the project rather than just have the land sitting there doing nothing. It took us a year and some months since I got the official letter from Lands and Surveys that the land is available to us but we have to show evidence of financing.” Woon-A-Tai, who submitted his final paper for his Eighth Dan last year, had also noted that the GKC’s present collateral will be sufficient to complete the preliminary sub-structure, fencing and foundation. The GKC alumni are planning to help the college financially.
There are also plans to involve the Japanese Government with Master Okazaki spearheading that drive. Further, Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and the Japanese Grass Roots have also pledged support once they are satisfied that the GKC is making the necessary effort to help itself to move the project forward.
The GKC has been a pioneer in the field of Martial Arts since 1968.
Yesterday, Anthony stated that the GKC is “charting a new territory” and he is confident that it will be successful in its drive to get the project off the ground and to continue its drive to develop karate in Guyana. Further, Anthony pointed out that another way the venture will be successful is if the corporate bodies and the people become involved.
According to Anthony, the government will continue to play a role to ensure there are proper facilities for sports. More importantly, accountability must be a hallmark of associations and the GKC has always been one of the bodies that showed this transparency in its operations.
Health-wise, Anthony encouraged persons to join the college when it is completed, especially since in the minister’s estimation many citizens have inculcated some unhealthy practices. He added that sport helps to improve cognitive development.
Woon-A-Tai in his brief remarks said that the building of the dojo will be an achievement for karate and the GKC. He said that karate is not just a sport but it is a vehicle for character development while acquiring basic self-defence techniques.