On the 29th April this year the Department of Tourism within the Ministry of Business held a Sports Tourism/Workshop which brought together sports associations, business and tourism entities, and the diplomatic corps with the aim of identifying the lines of action needed for the development of a successful sports tourism industry. As mentioned in yesterday’s editorial, governments all over the world have come to recognize the economic benefits that international sporting events bring and now seek to maximize the return on the hosting of such competitions.
There are lots of opportunities here for the development of this industry. Within the last year, in addition to the usual annual fixtures ‒ regional and international cricket matches at the Providence Stadium, the Easter Rodeo at Lethem and the GMR&SC November international motor racing meeting at South Dakota ‒ Guyana hosted the Caribbean Cadet and Junior Table Tennis Championships over the Easter weekend, the Caribbean School Boys and Junior Boxing Championships in May, and the South American Under 20 Track and Field Championships last month.
Upcoming events include the final of the Rugby Americas North Championship with Guyana tackling USA South later this month, the West Indian Full bore Shooting Championships in October to commemorate the local rifle association’s 150th anniversary, and the 2017 Indoor Pan American Hockey Championships – both Men and Women ‒ in October.
It’s all well and good to want develop this sector by hosting such glamorous events, but stadia and appropriate venues and facilities of high standards are an absolute must if such occasions are going to be accorded international status, and hence draw the number of visitors that merit such occasions. Coupled with this prerequisite is the high quality of planning and organising demanded, and its subsequent clockwork execution required for the smooth running of competitions at this level.
The Guyana Squash Association (GSA), an organization noted for its elite standards of performance over the last four decades were the hosts for the Caribbean Area Squash Association (CASA) Junior Championships from July 2nd to 8th, and arranged a tournament of such high quality that the other local sports associations should strive to emulate the elements in its blueprint.
The local media were kept well informed in the days leading up to the championships, and the organizing committee was readily accessible and willing to return telephone calls and answer any queries. The pre-tournament preparation of the two venues included the installation of seats and extensive upgrading of the two courts at the National Racquet Centre on Woolford Avenue, and the refurbishing of the three courts at the Georgetown Club, which were completed on time.
At the professionally arranged pre-tournament press conference on 29th June, the major sponsors and the 30 odd strong Guyana team in their new smart uniforms were presented to the media. Attendees were briefed on the entire tournament, including the schedules for the individual and team tournaments, and relevant information on the visiting contingents from Barbados, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Jamaica, OECS (Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States) and Trinidad and Tobago.
The liaison officers appointed for each team were at the airport to meet and receive the visitors over the next two days and ensure that their stay here was very comfortable for the entire event. All teams were allocated the appropriate practice time, with transportation readily available to shuttle the teams to and from the various facilities, or wherever the 80 odd visitors wished to venture.
In the midst of all these preparations, it should not be forgotten that diligent attention was still being paid to the local representatives who were being constantly reminded that they were the twelve-time defending overall team champions, as they went through their paces.
Kudos to the Ministry of Tourism for their support of the competition by hosting the Welcome Dinner at Colgrain House on the night prior to the start of the tournament.
The organizing committee produced a 50 page brochure, edited to the high standard which one would expect to find at such an international event. Printed on glossy paper, it included the customary welcoming messages from the various heads, a profile of Guyana’s Coach, Carl Ince, who was participating in his twentieth CASA tournament, all the relevant tournament information (including contact telephone numbers for all the pertinent officials), the programme of events, team profiles of all the participants (photos and bios), the complete record of all the past winners and the entire list of the sponsors who provided generous support.
Former Guyana CASA junior player Ramon Chan A Sue, now an international coach, flown in by the GSA, served his country in the honorary capacity as Tournament Director. The championships began with the individual section first, with a mid-week break before the team championship. There were two sessions daily, morning and afternoon, with the GSA providing meals following each period of competition. Squash aficionados in the Caribbean could have followed the event via live-streaming, as some matches were even covered point by point online, as the results of all matches were posted immediately upon completion.
Congratulations to the Barbadians who broke Guyana’s dominance of Junior CASA by winning six individual titles (to Guyana’s two), the Boys and the Girls Team Championships, and thus the overall title.
Kudos is due to the GSA and its organizing committee, and the sponsors for facilitating the tournament and setting such a high standard. The execution of the event was virtually flawless, but for a few minor hiccups, but nothing to write home about.
The bar has been set. The Pan American Hockey Federation already has the fixtures posted on its website for the October indoor tournament. Can the Guyana Hockey Board raise it?
Maybe, the Guyana National Rifle Association has a shot at it?