The newspapers last weekend highlighted the story of six overseas Guyanese representing Guyana in athletics at the Central American and Caribbean Games to be held at the end of July in Puerto Rico. There were photographs including that of Aliann Pompey who is among the earliest and most successful overseas Guyanese female athletes to represent Guyana at overseas sporting events. Several worthy Guyanese women have since followed and have made distinguished themselves and made Guyana proud.
Also representing Guyana at the CAC Games would be another overseas female Guyanese, Claire Fraser. A young British Army captain, Claire Fraser was in Guyana for a week to ride in the national cycle championship which took place on Sunday last. Unfortunately, Claire got an infected throat and chest, with a severe cough, and was running a temperature. She had to undergo medical treatment. Nevertheless, even though still ill and on medication, she bravely started the race and rode half way before having to drop out. Claire has already represented Guyana in Barbados in the Caribbean championships.
Claire Fraser was born in the UK, looks and speaks like an Englishwoman, but is half Guyanese and as proud of and interested in the Guyanese part of her heritage as of the English part. Her father is Peter Fraser, an historian and Guyana scholar, and a member of the large, extended Fraser family. He went to the UK to study after Queen=s College, and settled there. He has remained engaged with Guyana in various ways, including periodically writing learned reviews for local newspapers.
Claire hopes to represent Guyana in cycling at the Commonwealth Games later this year and in the Olympics in London in 2012 in the triathlon competition in which she specializes. I’m sure that all Guyana, when they get to know her, will begin to root for her success along with the other overseas athletes who represent Guyana in international events particularly our women athletes.
The Lady Jaguar (Jags) Football Team was here twice recently. It comprises young women, of Guyanese heritage, who are US college students and who play football. One or two college coaches who are Guyanese went to the enormous trouble of seeking out these young women and then took on the even greater challenge of welding them into a team, training them, seeking out the enormous funding overseas and in Guyana required for so many players and officials and getting them to play with credibility.
I was tremendously impressed with the team when it was here. Nikkita Persaud, a member, is on a football scholarship to The Citadel in South California but will be transferring to the University of Buffalo this year. She plays outside wing, but being the fastest person on the team, plays in a variety of positions. She was a wonder to watch with her burst of blinding speed and skillful, courageous resistance to aggressive tackling. I must say, though, that I am proudly biased. She is my niece. All the members of the team played equally well.
On the day this article is read in the first of two newspapers in which this article is published, the Mirror, the team will be playing Cuba right here in Guyana. From reports in other sections of the press it appears that they might not be funded to play in the CAC games in July. That would be an absolute shame. I hope the Government assists.
Even though there is a Ministry of Sport, a Sports Council and many sports organizations which are all making creditable efforts to improve and develop sports, sporting activities and sporting infrastructure in a wide array of sports, sufficient resources are not yet deployed to elevate Guyana to a recognized sporting nation. But just as Jamaica excels in athletics, developing nations such as Guyana can excel in one or two sports if the vision, effort and modest resources become available. Archery comes to mind in which Guyana can possibly have an advantage because of our traditions in the use of the bow and arrow as part of our history.
Guyanese women need to be encouraged far more in sporting activities. As facilities improve, particularly in the countryside, (a swimming pool in Region 3), unless parents, especially in the more conservative country areas, are targeted to permit their daughters to be involved in sports such as swimming, tennis, athletics, riding and other such sports, they are likely to frown on them being involved. Parent Teachers Associations, which the PPP promoted and in which its members were encouraged to participate in its years of opposition, can be highly supportive in the drive for disseminating education and information on the value of sporting activities.
Guyana=s recognition as a nation which is making a positive contribution to the world depends on the development of its multi-faceted talents, including sports. This must go beyond cricket and the courageous efforts of lone female athletes such as Aliann Pompey. Certain sports, such as archery, do not require the extensive resources as others, such as swimming, cricket or football. While not ignoring these popular sporting activities, some attention could be paid to low cost and less popular sporting activities which are less burdensome financially and hold out the hope for Guyana to show greater progress in the international arena. No one doubts that the talent exists. It needs merely to be discovered and nurtured. (www.conversationtree.gy).