After much consultation with government, the Alex Bunbury Sports and Academics Academy (ABSAA) has been assigned a plot of land in the Ituni area for the construction of Guyana’s first modern multipurpose sport and educational facility.
This announcement was made at a press briefing by the Minister within the Ministry of Education Nicolette Henry at the Pegasus Hotel in Kingston yesterday.
Henry, who is responsible for Culture, Youth and Sports portfolio, said “The government is extremely happy to be a part of it. The plan is to have a plot of land located in the Ituni area given to this project where a modern and state of the art facility is intended to be located to meet the needs of many Guyanese in the various sporting disciplines.”
According to Henry “Alex’s story is one of inspiration, to show if you invest in youth people and provide them with opportunities what can become of them and through this initiative, I look forward to that there will be many Alex Bunburys that will emerge and so the government certainly takes this opportunity not only to congratulate but to stand able and ready as an active partner in this initiative.”
Quizzed what the project means to the government, Henry said: “It provides an excellent opportunity to have exposure that is second best to none. There is great potential in this. From what I understand our young people right here in Guyana would be able to have the type of exposure that other young people around the world are having that put them at an advantage. So it will certainly reduce the parity and bring our young people closer to that place where they can perform at a comparable level.”
Asked about the other donations that will be given by the government to ABSAA, she said: “We are working with the organization to have the land available. When you think about donating the land, it’s not quite so. It’s more or less making the land available and there is other proprietary work that is required so it’s not quite a donation.
“But what I do want to say is that government support will emerge as this evolves because it’s not cast in stone at the beginning. If there are opportunities for us to support beyond having a site and a location available, government will chip in because it is important. It aligns well with the government’s strategic objective of providing opportunities and infrastructure for people, not only in sports but many other areas that young people are engaged. “As this evolves government contribution would be expected to evolve. I couldn’t sit here and say x, y and z, as things begin to roll out there will be many opportunities to that we do intend to take and make good use of,” she added.
Henry added that there will be no request for this facility in the 2017 budget allocation for sport, noting while funding for sports is done through subvention, the possibility could exist pending on the situation for that type of assistance to be afforded to the facility. ABSSA head, Alex Bunbury, said the project was not only geared towards football.
“It’s tailored for all sporting disciplines in our country. Everyone that is participating in sports. This facility and this initiative is for them. It will give them a safe haven so that they can express themselves, grow and become the next Alex Bunbury and go beyond that.
“I am not here for football or politics, I am here for the love of my country and the love of young people.
“Ituni, where we visited yesterday, is absolutely gorgeous. It’s in the interior and it will serve people if we get this right and do this it’s going to be phenomenal for Guyana. There is still a lot of work to be done but this is a stepping stone for something marvelous.”
Questioned about the likely start of the construction and if there is a timeline for the project, Bunbury said: “Our objective is not really looking at the timeframe, it is doing it the right way, being transparent making sure all the ‘T’s’ are crossed and the ‘I’s’ dotted.” Bunbury said that it was very important for the process to be transparent and above board for the government.
“For us to get the support of the government we had to do our due diligence and provide tangible data and things that they can see the vision that we put in front of them so I will be remiss to say a specific timeframe but we are doing everything to make it transparent and hopefully we will have a timeframe setup in a short period of time.”
Ivan Persaud, Chairman of the National Sports Commission (NSC) said:” I am extremely happy to be here in what is an historic day for sports in Guyana. I think I say this on behalf of all the other commissioners of the NSC who are not here today.
“One of the only things we are asking and hoping that this project would provide a safe environment, a place where talented athletes of Guyana can come together and not wondering about the colour of their skin or any other religious belief they make have and be able to be motivated in this environment to do the best they can, to follow a career path that will include educational sports, something which we have always been longing for in Guyana.
“After speaking to Mr. Bunbury and his team, I have the sense that this is going to be the start of where an initiation school for elite athletes can begin. I am also proud to sit as the Chairman of the NSC knowing that our honorable Minister [Henry] really endorsed this programme and being a valued partner in this whole scenario of sports in Guyana.”