Stabroek News Sunday
Inaugural National Sports Academy gets underway with squash, volleyball
—Verwey calls the occasion momentous
The inaugural National Sports Academy, featuring 12 core sports commenced yesterday with participation in two disciplines, squash and volleyball at two different venues in the city.
On hand to witness the historic occasion were Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport, Charles Ramson Jr., and Director of Sports Steve Ninvalle.
The two top sports officials attended the opening sessions at the at the National Racquet Centre and the Cliff Anderson Sports Hall of the nation’s first ever National Sports Academy.
At the National Racquet Centre, Woolford Avenue, squash players under the guidance of National Coach Carl Ince, began training in what the Guyana Squash Association (GSA) president Owen Verwey described as a momentous occasion.
“We’re very proud and happy to be the very first one (association) to kick-off the sports academy,” said verwey.
“For squash, we’re a relatively small fraternity, but we’re dedicated. So we’re focusing on delivering what we’re supposed to do for sports and for the youths in particular,” he added.
The academy will initially focus on the 12 core sports cricket, football, athletics, basketball, table tennis, swimming, hockey, squash, rugby, volleyball, tennis and badminton and Ramson Jr., informed that facilities were a major factor in identifying the core sports.
The National Racquet Centre facility was commissioned in 2013, but the minister said that it was underutilized. He has decided to make the squash courts available and free of cost, to the GSA and its members specifically for the implementation of the academy.
At the Cliff Anderson Sports Hall (CASH), Guyana Volleyball Federation president Levi Nedd, a former national player, lauded the initiative saying that in his over 40 years involvement in the sport, he has never been part of such a programme.
Director of Sport Ninvalle, in highlighting the historic occasion, said the 12 core sports will be the beneficiary of the government’s long-term investment in sports.
He encouraged the athletes to pay full attention and remain dedicated to the training programme during the duration of the academy.
During a public presentation of the National Sports Academy at the inaugural Guyana Sports Conference in October at
the National Cultural Centre, Ramson Jr., pointed out that the nursery level will target players between the ages of 12-17.
At the tournament level, the government, through the NSC, will earmark at least $12M annually for the governing bodies of the core sports, to support the organisation of tournaments.
Above-average performers, who excel at tournaments or those who show inordinate improvement, will be selected for the elite training which will last on average
four to eight weeks and will see selected individuals dedicating themselves fulltime to training for which a stipend would be given.
Ramson Jr., said the Sports Academy was a specific manifesto promise and reflects President Dr. Irfaan Ali’s “bottomup” approach to national development.
The remaining core sports will be rolled out in the next few weeks as they complete their preparatory arrangements and training.