By Noelle Smith
If he could get one wish granted immediately it would be for the playing fields and various sporting arenas across the country to be in proper condition.
“Lights for grounds, the different tracks, the various floors and turfs
for the sportsmen and women who train and play on different surfaces, I would wish for all of these things to be put in place,” said Dr. George Norton, the new Minister of Sports.
It’s been less than a month (September 1) since Dr. Norton took over as Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport, from Nicolette Henry and the good doctor is fully aware of the challenges ahead and said that he plans to tackle the issues affecting the development of sports.
The first item on his agenda, however is to have the facilities available and in the best possible condition and according to Dr. Norton, his administration was working towards making that a reality.
He pointed out that sports is in the position right now to benefit from this vision of improved training and playing conditions.
“It is in the process of happening. Soon the footballers will have their own ground for themselves for games and to practice,” he said.
“We are also looking to get the necessary turfs for hockey since hockey has various conditions under which the sport is played be it indoor or outdoor. We hope to get an artificial turf for hockey here in Georgetown in the very near future,” he said.
According to Dr. Norton, the availability of facilities would greatly benefit children and young people who wish to pursue sports and become athletes.
He also noted the need for sports physiotherapists, sports psychologists and well trained sports administrators.
“In order for the betterment of our athletes we must have persons qualified in all aspects of sports from athletes to technical staff. I am sorry to say this but we are lacking sports psychologists and even physiotherapists,” he said.
Guyana’s sports objective, he said, is to achieve as much as possible and push forward as a nation in the world of sports to become globally recognized.
He pointed out that Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, The Bahamas and other Caribbean nations have utilised sports to their advantage.
Dr. Norton said that the sports policies would be altered accordingly if need be when he gets a chance to thoroughly go through them.
“There are policies for sports. However, I haven’t had a chance to see them. Changes will be made where necessary to achieve total efficiency within the sporting disciplines.”
His ministry, he said, will continue to have training programmes in place to enable those interested in becoming
Coaches, referees and physiotherapists and other personnel necessary in the sporting field to become certified and qualified.
“There are coaching clinics held by international officials that local coaches can attend to gain more knowledge. Things are being put in place to assist the athletes and to get them to be as comfortable as possible. The hopeful outcome of these coaching programmes is that
Youth and by extension athletes, can progress from ‘amateur’ to ‘elite’ status”, the minister stated.
If Dr. Norton sees a successful education system on the basis of overall passes rather than an individual taking top honors, he also sees progress in sport as bettering individual times or rankings ahead of placing first or second in competitions.
“At the Schools’ Nationals, I’d rather we have people represent the Districts based on their merits and making certain times instead of going because they got first, second or third. This way there will be an improvement in times and dedication to the sport as they will have to improve themselves to make the teams.”
As important as education is to the development and welfare of the Youth of the country, Dr. Norton said that sports is equally important for their social and cultural development.
Sports and Youth go hand-in-hand, he said, because it opens up an avenue for growth, accomplishment and pride.
The Guyana Teacher’s Union Inter-Schools Championships is a major event which leads to school pride among the youth and from which they can become amateur and professional athletes. At these championships the schoolchildren represent their schools and districts aiming at trumping their competitors for top honours.
“Sports is a tool for young people and anyone actually to boost their confidence and their self-esteem. It is also something that helps to keep them occupied and out of trouble. Education and Sport go together and produce outstanding young people because from having to balance school and sport they learn a valuable skill: time management,” he opined.
“Novices in the various sports are considered important as well since they are the ones who are looked at to continue the progression of the sports disciplines. As such, it is important that sports within a country be developed and maintained efficiently,” he said.
Dr. Norton said that he values the contribution sports has on the shaping and development of the youth and the country.
It is because of this that he is insistent on getting the necessary facilities and equipment for the various sporting disciplines in tip top shape.