Regional Executive Officer of Region Number Eight Rafael Downes says he will do whatever he can to help the talented sportsmen and women of the region.
Downes, father of the country’s number one lawn tennis player Anthony, is credited with teaching his son the rudiments of the game thereby facilitating his rise to the top.
“We have a number of very talented sportsmen and woman in this region and I’ll do whatever I can do to ensure that they garner the right opportunities to propel their development,” said the REO.
According to the REO, sports is the perfect vehicle to bring about holistic development.
The elder Downes has given the assurance that this he will be seeking to forge a number of partnerships towards achieving his set objectives.
He said that while his workload as REO is one that is challenging in terms of getting projects and programmes executed, he firmly believes that sports is the best avenue for further developing the youths in Region 8.
“It’s already an established fact that opportunities are limited for the young people in Region 8 and, as such, sports would be the best option of further enhancing the talent and skills of several of the young men and women there,” he said.
He issued a passionate appeal to the various sports associations in Guyana to look at investing in youths who possess the talent and skills from outlying areas noting that in many cases all the youths need are opportunities to showcase what they can do.
“Sports is not cheap and frankly it’s very expensive if you are going to go the long haul and therefore, if you don’t have the finances, you must have the sponsors who are prepared to invest heavily in you,” he said.
He continued: “When I was investing in my son Anthony, it was long and challenging but I am very satisfied and proud of his achievements over the years as he has certainly proven that irrespective of which area or community you are from, once you have the right support base you can achieve anything. Today Anthony is a tennis champion beating everyone in his path in very convincing ways,” he declared.
Downes suggested that the formula used for his son’s success at lawn tennis can be replicated if the business community and sporting associations coupled with the National Sports Commission take a deep interest in producing new stars.
“What you are seeing a lot of is very raw talent in football, lawn tennis, volleyball, archery and cricket but the respective associations must be prepared to invest seriously in sports development and sports development must not only come in the coastline areas but throughout Guyana,” he argued.
He expressed disappointment with the reluctance of several sporting associations’ officials who have never visited several of these communities to review and examine the talent that exists expressing the view that sports must not only be about lip service but about toiling night and day for long hours while seeking to produce the best.
“We have a lot of officials unfortunately who claim that they have passion for sports development but yet they ignore these regions for varying reasons.
The common excuse that we hear is that it’s expensive to visit these regions or that time is limited… foolishness, they are many innovative ways that they can explore in visiting these regions. As a matter of fact, expanding the sport to the hinterland communities should be the top priority of every association and I am hoping that for this year a number of associations are seeking to do this,” he opined.
Downes disclosed that for his region’s budget for 2017 there isn’t any money for sports but expressed the view that he will embark on a number of collaborations and partnerships as being from Region 8 he better understands the plight and cries of the youths.
“I have been passionate about sports over the years and I will continue to build relationships which hopefully will evolve into partnerships and collaborations. We cannot allow our talented youths to sit by idly with broken or lost dreams thus seeing themselves as failures resulting in many of them turning to social ills.
It’s time that we help in our own little way in saving the dreams and desires as when you listen to many of the youths in this region they have come to the realization that they cannot get out into the big scene because of their location and or situation so I will seek with the help of others to change this perception while renewing their desires and ability to dream big,” he declared.