President David Granger: Thank you. Please be seated. Stay warm and dry. Thank you Chairperson. Brigadier Mark Phillips, Chief of Staff of the Guyana Defence Force, our host today; Brigadier Neville; Colonel Hussain; Colonel Francis Abraham; other senior military officers; Mr. Hamilton Lashley, Chairman of the Hamilton Lashley Human Development Foundation and of course his able assistant, Ms. Nichole Murray, Secretary of the Caribbean Congress of Community Practitioners; Mr. Alfred King, Permanent Secretary of the Department of Culture, Youth and Sport; Mr. Wayne Ford; distinguished guests from the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados; other distinguished invitees; sportsmen and women; boys and girls; members of the media; ladies and gentlemen:
The Chief of Staff has promised to destroy all the score sheets for the march past, so don’t believe you are going to be judged by your marching; you’ll be judged by your football but I would like to join the earlier speakers in welcoming you to Guyana, and giving you a touch of good Amazonian rainfall.
We are part of the Caribbean region; we call ourselves the gateway because we are not only a Caribbean country but we’re also a continental country and the headquarters of the Caribbean Community is right here in Georgetown, in Guyana.
So we feel that you, our brothers and sisters will always be welcome. I like to tell my colleague- Heads of Government that I see Guyana as the hinterland of the Caribbean so please feel that you’ll always be welcome here in the hinterland.
I’d like, particularly, to compliment the Hamilton Lashley Human Development Foundation for its role in organising the Caribbean Charity Shield Soccer Tournament. This is a huge enterprise bringing hundreds of young people together from three CARICOM States. I congratulate you and thank you for the effort that you have put in, Mr. Hamilton Lashley, Ms Nichole Murray and the other members of your staff. This is a unique gathering of young people from our three countries: Barbados, Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago and it’s also an event without equal. I don’t know that there’s any other part of the Caribbean where we can see an event as well supported as this.
I compare the Caribbean to a tree. At the top of the tree of course, you have the Caribbean Heads of Government, the branches in all of the States of CARICOM, from Belize and Bahamas all the way to Guyana and Suriname and then there is the trunk, the Caribbean Single Market and Economy which holds us together, but right at the bottom you have the grassroots and the trees cannot survive, cannot grow without its grassroots and this is where the Hamilton Lashley Foundation operates; at the grassroots level, holding up the trunk, holding up the branches, holding up the tree.
Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, regional integration must be strengthened at all three levels, at the branch, at the trunk and at the roots, and I compliment the foundation for doing just that though its social work activism in grassroots communities. The Foundation is fostering the spirit of social solidarity among the region’s young people. It is promoting regionalism from the bottom up, it is working at the community level to build greater self-esteem and self-worth particularly among the youth and that’s why we’re all here this morning enjoying this beautiful Guyanese weather.
This tournament has become a bridge, a bridge among the three states: Barbados, Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago. I look forward to very keen competition for the football tournament; keen but also characterised by fairness and friendliness.
With these words, I am honoured and happy to declare open the Caribbean Classic Children’s Charity Shield Soccer Tournament 2016.
I thank you.

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