Boyce/Jefford Classic IX lobbies government for support

From left, Colin Boyce, Melissa Dow-Richardson, Minister George Norton and former Kaieteur news sports journalist Edison Jefford following Friday’s meeting.

Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the Boyce and Jefford Track and Field Classic Committee, Colin Boyce and Edison Jefford met with Minister of Social Cohesion, Dr. George Norton, who also has responsibility for Culture, Youth and Sport, on Friday at his Main Street Office where a menu of issues were discussed, including plans to host the ninth edition of the annual athletics championships.

According to a press release from the Committee, Boyce and Jefford also lobbied government to support the annual activity that is scheduled for August 11 and 12 at the Mackenzie Sports Club Ground in Linden.

“While we have been an international meet since we started several years ago, next year we plan to move to full international accredited status for our 10th Anniversary since we will be getting a synthetic track in Linden,” Boyce said in the release.

According to Boyce, government support is important from this year to help the event transition to the new facility scheduled to be constructed at the Bayroc Community Centre Ground. He said that Boyce and Jefford is “happy that there will be a track in Linden”.

Minister Norton aptly responded indicating that the magnitude of the Boyce and Jefford Classic demands support. He congratulated the group for sustaining an event for nearly a decade against much odds, including bad weather and conditions for athletics.

“I support Boyce and Jefford because you are the ones who started it; you need our support and it’s within your right to come to us; we are here to support you because we know it takes a lot of time and dedication to get to this level,” Norton posited.

The Boyce and Jefford Track and Field Classic was started nine years ago in Linden, and can be credited with introducing corporate Guyana and the international athletics community to the sport here. The group has advocated that their mission remains to establish a prominent place for athletics among the other traditional sport disciplines in Guyana.

They believe that they have successfully resuscitated athletics with an emergence of other meets. Interestingly, double Commonwealth medalist, Aliann Pompey competed in Guyana for the first time at the Boyce and Jefford Classic in 2011. Since then, many other regional and international athletes have graced these shores for the event.

“You are doing something for Guyana. You are doing something that benefits Guyana and I want to congratulate you for staying in Linden even in the tough years,” Norton indicated, adding that his ministry is doing its best with the resources allocated to it and to keep the public informed on all developments.

Also present at the meeting was Assistant Director of Sport, Melissa Dow-Richardson who made it clear that the Boyce and Jefford Classic is “one of the standout events locally”; she indicated to those present that she “follows the event intensely”.

“I know that the event has a good relationship with corporate Guyana and the athletes… reaching out to the Administration is in the best interest of the competition as it grows to a decade of existence,” Dow-Richardson noted.

The Boyce and Jefford Classic will dole out four million in cash and prizes with one million going to the top club while second place gets $500,000, third place $300,000 and fourth place $200,000. In addition there will be eight international events valued at $100,000 each and other events for Masters and media, ensuring another 1 million in cash is handed out. Apart from the cash sums, trophies, medals and prizes for patrons will total another 1 million.

Jefford thanked Minister Norton and the Ministry for giving the Committee the opportunity to detail their plans for the event. He said that again it was a historic moment since it was the first time a Minister with responsibility Sport showed any interest in the event.

The Boyce and Jefford Track and Field Classic is one of the biggest athletics events in Guyana. Kares Engineering Inc. was the main sponsor of the event last year. National Director of Sport, Christopher Jones has also been a supporter of the competition.

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