Gov’t to improve conditions for athletes representing Guyana − President Ali

His Excellency, Dr Mohamed Irfaan Ali said the government will work closely with sporting associations to set minimum standards to improve conditions for athletes representing Guyana.

In a live broadcast Wednesday, Dr Ali said he has engaged several sportsmen and women who shared their concerns on how the governance mechanism of the different sport disciplines is handled in Guyana.

Desmond Amsterdam, Nicholette Fernandes and Keevin Allicock at the recent South American Games 2022

He said the government, through the Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports, has been doing much to improve accountability. The head of state noted, however that the sporting bodies are independent, and must be held accountable.

“Nevertheless, once you are putting on national colours, then a country, a government, every single aspect and stakeholder in that country must be responsible, and we must all play our part in ensuring that those who are wearing our national colours are treated fairly, to ensure they are treated with a high degree of respect and dignity, and also that they exercise responsibility, in doing what is right in representing our country, representing themselves and wearing that national uniform.

“There must be a minimum standard that is set. For example, physiotherapists, basic medical personnel, those persons must be assigned to teams when they are leaving to represent Guyana so that our athletes can be treated with the dignity that they can have the assurance of some sort of medical support,” the president asserted.

All sporting bodies and athletes will be engaged in setting this minimum standard so that when teams are selected to represent Guyana, they have a clear understanding of those standards.

President Ali noted that many associations need funding to support athletes’ development and participate in events.

“There will be greater involvement and participation at the ministry level in bringing that coordination, in overseeing the governance and I think we need to have a national conversation on the governance of sporting institutions, their responsibility, their accountability this is important, we cannot have institutions that are not accountable or responsible for their actions… and our athletes too, need to be accountable and responsible and I am sure that they are and will continue to do their best in ensuring that they maintain a minimum level of fitness that they ensure that they maintain a minimum standard that allows them to represent our country,” President Ali added.

The sporting administration came under the spotlight in recent days after National Boxer Keevin Allicock shared, via social media the challenges he faced while representing Guyana recently at the South American Games 2022, in Paraguay.

Many Guyanese supported Allicock, including national athlete and squash champion Nicolette Fernandes who also cited many shortcomings in the administration of sports locally.

The president voiced his support for the athletes and said he “felt Allicock’s pain.” He committed to a solution which involves the Ministry of Sport working closer with sporting associations to improve conditions for sportsmen and women in Guyana.