Apart from swimming no new sporting disciplines will be undertaken by the University of Guyana says Sports Co-ordinator Lavern Fraser-Thomas.
Fraser-Thomas in a recent interview with Stabroek Sport said the university would be focusing on strengthening the disciplines it is currently involved in while seeking to access sport and academic scholarships for students at educational institutions regionally and internationally.
“I can safely say that I have already had dialogue with Barbados. Our cricket team participated in the inter-collegiate cricket competition so I thought that we could get involved in another sport too. So I have approached UWI Barbados Sports department about a possible basketball exchange,” said Fraser-Thomas.
The two sides have tentatively agreed on the Easter holidays which will see students participating in a workshop as well as participating in competitions, she disclosed.
“Last year for the first time the university participated in the Barbados Relay Fair and we do plan to participate in the new year, hopefully we will have a bigger contingent.”
She disclosed too that the university, which is affiliated to the Athletic Association of Guyana (AAG), is in receipt of a document for the body which could see athletes benefiting from scholarships outside of track and field.
“That is another avenue that we are going to be exploring to see how we can further prove that opportunity for our students.”
This Fraser-Thomas explained is an impetus for athletes leaving secondary school to attend the university. With such programmes in place, students will have the opportunity to pursue their career in sports while continuing their academic studies with the possibility of them even furthering their studies at a university overseas.
“So these are things that we are investing in and we will try our utmost to make available these opportunities to our students.”
Asked about the possibility of the university getting involved in new sporting disciplines Fraser-Thomas only one and that is swimming because of the number of requests she has been receiving from the students. Dialogue she will start with the National Sports Commission sometime in the new year. According to her she is not just looking to have access to the facilities but also coaches.
Fraser-Thomas said the previous academic year 2011/2012 has seen the university planning and executing a number of competitions with the exception of table tennis and volleyball, something she hopes can be fixed for the new academic year.
However, the university has successfully executed inter-faculty cricket, football, track and field, scrabble, dominoes and basketball competitions.
She described the year as an exceptional one but also an eye opener. “There is always this perception that students were not interested in sports, they were focused on the academic side of things and that time did not permit. However, I have found that to be very different because with the necessary provision of the opportunity to participate the response has been very good. But one aspect that affected our sports was the failure of students to adhere to deadlines as it pertains to submission of teams and that sort of thing which at times forced the postponement of events. But, after all of that, I think they understand the importance of reaching deadlines if we are going to complete our annual sports programme.”
Asked about female participation, Fraser-Thomas said males continue to be predominantly involved in sports but said some females are making the effort.
“We do have females playing volleyball. For the cricket competitions, the rule stipulates that each faculty has to name at least one female. The males of course were unhappy and could not see the benefit of the females being involved but I think that I can safely say that by the time we got to the end of the competition that they were quite happy and even strategizing how and when to use the females in terms of bowling and batting.”
She said that her hope was for females who were willing to represent their faculties to come together and form a female team, but that has not materialized to date.
“There are some females who have indicated an interest but I have still been unable to get them to come together so that we can do that. A coach was identified at the beginning of the academic year 2011-2012 to coach the female team but several efforts failed to get the girls out.”
She said that there is female participation in the indoor sports of scrabble and dominoes.
“But in the outdoor sports we have not been able to make the kind of breakthrough that is necessary. But I am hoping that as we continue and as they themselves start to see the benefit of being involved in sports within the university that I would motivate them to get on board,” she said.