Says Emmerson Campbell
Did Guyana pass the litmus test following the 42nd staging of the South American U-20 Track and Field Championships which made its debut here last weekend?
In my humble opinion, the answer is yes.
While there were the expectant hiccups that came with hosting the international fixture with just two month’s notice, I had a first-hand look at the event which was held at the National Track and Field Centre and determined it was a success on many fronts.
The event had several positive spin-off effects.
Hosting a major international event like the S/A Championships increased the visibility and profile of the country. The event, which was streamed live on Facebook, saw people the world over get to know about ‘The Land of Many Waters’.
We should strive as much as possible to host more. I have always advocated for the hosting of major events in the 592. We do not need a lot of stadia to host such tournaments. Our infrastructure has improved greatly in the last 10-15 years and I think we are now ready to play host to more championships of such a magnitude. It was a great learning experience for the administrators and as the cliché goes, ‘Practice makes perfect.’
Yes, we will have challenges just like any other host country, but I am confident that we can pull it off like we did last weekend. I am confident that Guyana, though we have a long way to go, have facilities and capabilities as a country to host many more international events, not just in the discipline of track and field.
Another positive spin-off has to do with the benefit of the economy, including the tourism, hospitality, catering and transport sectors among others.
People will spend money here and put something into our economy. While sport brings together people to rally behind their teams and individual athletes, the visitors will get to know about and appreciate what Guyana has to offer. Through hosting such major sporting events, we can sell our country.
There are some other notable sporting events that we will potentially host in the near future and this augurs well for our country. For starters, people will appreciate and get to know about Guyana. They will visit our country and invest in our economy.
This past weekend was a good litmus test to gauge our readiness to host such an event like the CARIFTA Games, which is even bigger and attracts even more internationals.
Sport is in most cases is also a unifier. We can use sport to show our sense of togetherness and pride in our country. As much as we will revel in the sporting activity as the thousands of fans did on June 3 and 4, we will come together as a Nation. I am of the view that we have the infrastructure, capable minds and the vigour to organize and host bigger events.
Hosting international events on local soil also exposes more of our athletes to a high level of competition.
We do not necessarily have to have flashy venues but we can do with those that we have. Other countries have hosted sporting events with less than what we have. The onus is now on us as a Nation, not just the administrators to be ambitious and bid for bigger events. Obviously, we cannot host the Olympics and the FIFA World Cup now, but there are other events we can host.