World Youth Championships off the table for Guyanese boxers

“The risk is too great for us to take” – GBA President Steve Ninvalle

“The risk is too great for us to take as an association.”
That was the reason given by Guyana Boxing Association (GBA) President Steve Ninvalle for why Guyana’s intended 4-member team to the World Youth Boxing championships shied away from the international tournament.
In order for them to have participated, the Guyanese team would have had to depart the Land of Many Waters days or even weeks ago, since the event was slated to run from April 10 to 24 in Kielce, Poland. However, a conscious decision was taken by the Association in the best interest of the young boxers.
“So funding was not an issue,” The GBA President divulged. “But it was COVID.”
Speaking exclusively with the <<Guyana Times Sport>> on Saturday, Ninvalle highlighted the rising coronavirus cases in Poland and explained that the GBA’s first thought was about keeping the Guyanese team safe.

GBA President Steve Ninvalle

“It is not about how COVID is going in Guyana, it’s what is going on in the neck of the woods that they were supposed to be going to,” he said.
He added, “Poland has seen an astronomical rise in the COVID cases.”
This past week, Poland has seen a significant surge in coronavirus cases, recording in excess of 27,000 new cases on April 8; 28,000+ on April 9, and 24,000+ new cases on April 10.
The chagrin of having boxers stranded in a foreign country still lingers with the GBA, and as such, Ninvalle explained, with European countries entering lockdowns, the possibility of a repeat of that experience could not again be entertained.
Ninvalle told this publication, “What is also added to our decision is the fact that several European countries are actually closing down and putting in (place) restrictions; and remember we have just come out of last year, when we had boxers spending 126 days being stranded in Cuba, which would have been a financial burden, mental and psychological burden, and a physical burden on them.
“So, our decision was made, basically about the safety and well-being of the boxers at all times. Yes, we want medals, and yes, we want them to participate, but their safety and well-being we could not guarantee. And if we cannot guarantee that, then we will not allow them to leave these shores,” the GBA boss went on to explain.
Meanwhile, should a similar scenario arise with regard to the Olympic Qualifiers, the GBA is likely to take the same course of action in keeping the local pugilists safe.
“I’m also saying that this will go for the team to the Olympic qualifiers also,” Ninvalle declared. “That if there is anything threatening (to affect) their well-being and their safety and their health, then we will have to make a decision, and we will make that decision and we will not make any apologies for putting safety, well-being and health foremost.
“It is no use you’re sending your fighters out and their safety is not guaranteed. I’m not saying that you could have safety (in) anything guaranteed 100%, (but) there must be a percentage which you will accept. Once I’m at the helm of the association, that is what we will continue to do, anything else will be secondary,” the Boxing Association President concluded.
The GBA boss also shared that upon making the decision, the team was informed and bore similar concerns to the GBA executives concerning their safety, thereby agreeing with the move to be absent from the World Youth Championships.
Previously, the Guyana Boxing Association (GBA) had indicated their interest in sending a four-member team to the international bout in Poland, inclusive of lone female pugilist Abiola Jackman.
A similar team has also been assembled for the Olympic Qualifiers, with three males and one female. That team reads: Keevin Allicock, Colin Lewis, Desmond Amsterdam and Canada-based Taveena Kum. (Jemima Holmes)