A demand by athletes, who represented Guyana at regional and international events to be rewarded for excellent performances, is finally being heard.
Minister of Social Cohesion with responsibility for Culture, Youth and Sport, Dr George Norton said that is one of the issues being addressed in the National Sports Policy. The minister explained that while the issue is complex, careful thought must be placed as the government does not want to shortchange any athlete.
“Whether it is a Junior CARIFTA gold, whether it is a Pan American gold, whether it is a Commonwealth gold or whether it is an Olympic gold, we want for it to be well established what level of incentives we will offer because we want to encourage our athletes and we have to do that.”
According to a Department of Public Information (DPI) release, the draft document that was made public by the government, there is an incentive package outlined for individual athletes or teams who attain gold, silver or bronze at regional, sub-regional and international championships.
The package includes acknowledgements in the form of promotional tours, formal receptions and media engagements. The financial package will be a pre-determined amount of money compared to regional standards and a tangible reward in the form of a piece of land or a built house through a state-supported scheme. However, the package can become more lucrative as the draft policy depending on feedback from ongoing national consultations.
Minister Norton said “it is not an overnight something. We vote for a change but we want the change overnight, it is going to take some time but we are getting there and that policy that we are developing, will tell you how much we can help because we can only do that which our resources permit us to do.”
He said that while in other countries athletes are usually well compensated for their efforts, the same cannot be done in Guyana at the moment until the policy is completed and passed in the National Assembly.