ꟷ “We want them to be focused on winning,” says Director of Sport, Christopher Jones
By Jemima Holmes
‘Better late than never’ is the term that can best describe the Guyana Boxing Association’s (GBA’s) situation, after receiving a sum of money from the National Sports Commission (NSC) earlier today, and a further sum of money from the Guyana Olympic Association (GOA).
The NSC and the GOA have finally come to their senses, and have reached out to assist the GBA three days after the deadline had expired for the GBA to submit accommodation fees for the Guyana boxing contingent to participate in the Olympic Qualifiers.
GBA President Steve Ninvalle disclosed on Thursday that the GBA had failed to meet the deadline for the payment of accommodation fees, whereas other countries, such as Antigua, Barbados, Dominica and Jamaica, among others, had had their expenses completely footed by their respective Olympic Associations. Director of Sport, Christopher Jones, after establishing that the NSC had not been in a position to help the GBA because of the absence of a budget for 2020, explained that the Board of Directors of the NSC had met to source funds from other projects in order to assist the GBA.
“We are now in 2020. As you know, no budget was presented for last year, so we are essentially running on fumes. There isn’t any allocation for grants, therefore the allocation for this had to be taken from other areas, whether it had to go to maintenance, of facilities, or whatever the case may be,” Jones explained.
He disclosed that $2.5 million was given to the GBA, and said that hefty sum will be put directly to the boxers’ airfare to Argentina, which is approximately US$1800 per person.
“The NSC, after consultation with the board members, had to do what is necessary to ensure that our boxers stay focused, and not have them be distracted. The board members have agreed, and the NSC has endorsed, and today we will be making a cheque contribution to the Boxing Association to the tune of $2.5M,” he explained. The Director of Sport, in his rationale behind going above and beyond the existing negative circumstances in order to assist the GBA, asserted his confidence in the abilities of the Guyanese contingent.
“We want them to be focused on winning. We are confident — based on the work we have been seeing the Boxing Association doing over the years — we are confident that our boxers can make it to the Olympics,” Jones asserted.
On the other hand, the GOA, while not commenting on the issue of footing the entire bill, has given another sum of money to the GBA, to be used to cover accommodation and meals’ expenses.
Ninvalle expressed his gratitude to the entities, but took time to share his hopes that the GBA would never have to be in a similar position in the future. “Let me thank Mr. Jones and the NSC for seeing it fit (to come on board) at the 11th hour, but nevertheless they have (come on board). I would venture to say that, while we express hearty thanks, it is my hope that in the future we could have such issues dealt with well before time, because it places a stress on the athletes,” Ninvalle stated. Guyana’s boxing contingent that is going to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Qualifiers in Argentina will consist of boxers Colin Lewis, Desmond Amsterdam, Keevin Allicock, Dennis Thomas, Canada-based Taveena Kum and coaches Sebert Blake, Terrence Poole and Francisco Roldan.
While the boxers who are training in Cuba are expected to return home on March 21, they will depart for Argentina on March 23. The Olympic Qualifiers are scheduled for March 26 to April 3.