The first draft of the long awaited National Sports Policy (NSP) was released on Monday by the Government of Guyana.
The 85-page document which is available online illustrates a wide cross section of issues relating to all sporting disciplines in the country from the role of the government ministries to the roles, rights and responsibilities of broadcastmedia as well as finance.
The NSP was one of the key issues the current administration, APNU+AFC promised in their 2015 campaign and features consultations by various stake holders.
The document, in its opening, recognizes a need for the “re-educating of the population on sports in Guyana” while going on to acknowledge the need for a value to an athlete’s life rather than “as a casual past time, leisure or recreational activity but as an entire sector which services the fundamental needs and requirements of the Guyanese athlete, from the amateur to the elite.”
The documentation was circulated to various stake holders with feedback being welcomed.
Olympian, Aliann Pompey in her view stated that she wants to see more structure to the “Elite Athlete Development” and Sports Financing” chapters while Rajendra Singh on behalf of the Guyana Cricket Board noted that it was an important document which was agreed by the board to set up a special committee to review the policy.
The policy highlighted the government’s input into the relationship with athletes by prioritizing “employment in public sector…persons with legitimate credentials in sports and experience as former national athlete/player representative.”
It will also see the government and private sector, making provisions to facilitate the training and participation in competitions for both athletes and administrators, especially internationally without loss of earning, status or benefits. It also seeks to broaden the scope of sports throughout the educational system by making Physical Education compulsory at the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate level.
Manager of the National Stadium, Anthony Xavier acknowledged the implementation of “PE” in school programmes as probably the best aspect of the policy despite not having a time frame allocated.
Xavier found the policy to lack overall consultation and implementation policy, consultations on implementing into the schools, legislation governing sports and the need for consultation with the bodies representing the various sports.
Incentives to successful athletes
The NSP indicates a role of government to provide incentives to successful athletes not only at world or Olympic levels but regional, primary and tertiary.
Scholarships will also be issued to competitive national athletes while bodies will be able to access grants.
This role, however is not limited to the government alone, but a shared responsibility between the government, the Guyana Olympic Association, sports associations and federations as well as supporting entities.
The policy, in its attempt to remedy an influx of manipulation of administrations and competitions, highlights an intention of implementing comprehensive education and prevention programmes to establish transparent and democratic decisions with structures for the protection of good governance, codes of conduct, zero tolerance policies and sanctions as a deterrent.
The document pinpoints the hosting of international sporting events with the country providing facilities and equipment confirming with international safety standards while examining the requirements of major sporting events.
The NSP indicates that it will not target athletes based on current performance alone, but a prediction on future performances based on various evaluations and help to garner the support from a very young age, moving from “the basic interest to talent, viability and long term development.”
Based on the athletes’ medical health, the policy wishes to establish a criteria whereby national athletes shall have free access to medical and psychological services.
On the aspect of funding, the draft proposed a facilitation on the part of the government to ensure the funds are available and accessible through the Ministry of Finance, private sector, budgeted allocations, tax exemptions and a good relationship with corporate Guyana.