While the county of Essequibo has not gained sufficient recognition in sports despite its huge landscape and its abundance of untapped human resources, the latest indication of corporate support for the Charity sports ground is indeed an exciting prospect.
The Alphonso Group of Companies through its Chairman Mr Alfro Alphonso has invested substantially in the restoration and development of the Charity sports ground, which is situated in the north of the Essequibo Coast. The ground is also accessible to the residents of several villages along the Pomeroon River, and will make it possible for these seemingly isolated citizens to have a first-class venue for recreational activities, including national events. Charity, which is now a township, has developed rapidly, economically speaking, and now has the opportunity to take this further through sports with this remarkable initiative. Mr Alphonso is himself an avid sports enthusiast and has already contributed significantly to many sporting disciplines on the Essequibo Coast. In fact it was through the intervention and understanding of President Bharrat Jagdeo on a visit to Essequibo recently that this development materialized, since the idea had been previously floated, but was stymied because of the reluctance of the Charity Neighbourhood Democratic Council which has ownership of the ground. This act of maturity and vision from all parties involved will transform the possibilities for Essequibians in their quest for sporting supremacy.
The Essequibo Coast needs such facilities, and I envision that this ground will be of international standard and will be equipped with modern floodlights. It will promote social cohesion and provide a venue for families and residents who will be entertained during the evenings and who also will have the opportunity to participate in physical exercises after work, as is done in Trinidad, where the government provides free electricity for those grounds which have lights. Our other premier grounds on the Essequibo Coast such as the Anna Regina Community Centre ground and the privately owned Hampton Court cricket ground are inadequate if sport is going to take a quantum leap, since they need urgent upgrading. Neither facility has attracted national or regional events since the Hampton Court ground hosted regional cricket matches during the last decade. These brought international stars such as Joel Garner, Richie Richardson, Brian Lara, Carl Hooper, Ian Bishop, etc, to these shores.
I have previously implored the Kashif and Shanghai organization to list Essequibo as one of the venues for the annual football mega-tournament, and perhaps with the Charity sports ground being transformed into a modern venue, it will be considered. This is not to conclude though that the tournament cannot be hosted in 2011.
As a sports personality I am indeed delighted to recognize such promising rewards for the Essequibo Coast and the intervention of business entities to create opportunities for our sporting talent and for the residents who crave more national and regional events. While I am excited by the development of the Charity sports ground, I am aware that another corporate entity, the Imam Bacchus Group of Companies is in the process of building a modern cricket ground in Affiance, which is located in the south of the Essequibo Coast. These facilities will undoubtedly have a positive impact on the mental and physical capabilities of our athletes, and there will be no place for our traditional excuses over the years – ie, a lack of adequate infrastructural development along with poor technical support. I therefore appeal to all Essequibians to fully support these ventures by being receptive towards sporting activities, and for our cherished athletes to have a different perspective on their talent. Sport is just not a sport any more; it’s a gateway to being an elite athlete, with fame and satisfaction in life, and an elevation to prosperity from poverty. The corporate organizations are becoming conscious about sports‘ dynamics and economics, and so should our athletes. The Charity sports ground will be an enormous pathway towards the success of sports in Essequibo.