Georgetown, Guyana – (November 30, 2018) Minister of State, Mr. Joseph Harmon, this evening, announced that the Government of Guyana has signed a contract worth almost GYD $179M for the construction of a state-of-the-art track and field stadium in Linden, Upper Demerara- Berbice (Region Ten).

Minister Harmon, who was at the time speaking at the closing ceremony for the 58th National Schools’ Cycling, Swimming and Track and Field Championships 2018 at the National Track and Field Centre, Lenora, West Coast Demerara, said that the contract was signed today. He noted that a similar stadium will also be constructed in East Berbice- Corentyne (Region Six).

“Our Government remains committed to providing state of the art sporting facilities to all of our citizens especially our young people. I am therefore pleased to inform you that we have, only a few hours ago, signed a contract for the cost of GYD $178, 938, 675.00 for the construction of a modern track and field facility similar to this one here at Linden in Region 10. A similar facility will also be constructed in Region Six,” he stated.

The Minister of State said even with the stadiums coming on stream, Government will continue to intensify its efforts in rehabilitating and upgrading community centres and schools’ playfields. “We will spare no effort and will allocate adequate resources for the development of all sports disciplines. We view excellence at sports as important as academic excellence and wish to see the two streams go hand in hand instead of one being pursued at the expense of the other,” the Minister said to loud applause.

Meanwhile, as Minister Harmon congratulated the Ministry of Education, Guyana Teachers’ Union (GTU), Banks DIH Limited and other stakeholders for organising the annual event, he noted that while the championships started from humble beginnings, it has risen this year to unprecedented heights with a number of new records being set in events such as high jump, long jump, shot put, discus and javelin.

“I wish to commend all of the athletes and officials from the 15 school sports districts for their outstanding performances throughout the competitions. Each athlete should see himself or herself as a winner since having reached this far has taken courage, resilience and perseverance and I urge you whether you have broken a record or not, whether you have won or not, to continue your quest for excellence in your respective sports discipline as well as in your academic and future career endeavours. This year approximately 1500 athletes have participated in the final events. I am sure that you will agree with me that the successful conclusion of these championships give testimony to the superlative management and organisational skills of the management committee and I wish to commend them for a job well done,” Minister Harmon noted.

Further, he said that this year, the Government has noted greater involvement and improved competition from the hinterland regions especially Regions One, Eight and Nine. The Minister of State stated that this is particularly gratifying to the Government especially President David Granger since his vision has always been to provide equal opportunities and similar facilities to all citizens and to bridge the developmental gap between the coastal and hinterland as well as between urban and rural communities.

“We also see sports as an important mechanism for the promotion of social cohesion in our country. This is very much in evidence here as we see young people representing our ethnic diversity from all across Guyana, competing in unity and involved in healthy competition. I hope that you will all use these interactions to help break down the artificial barriers that continue to divide us and impede our development as a nation,” he said.

Meanwhile, Chief Education Officer, Ministry of Education, Mr. Marcel Hutson, said that the annual championships have concluded with much success and with the spirit of competitiveness at its peak.

“All participants were at their best. It is a testimony that all things are possible if you put your mind to it. I congratulate the winners and the participants. Sports events such as these are meant to showcase the talent of our young people rather than only recognising winners. Sports teach us how to work in harmony with other people, accept defeat with equal ease and work as a consolidated unit and you all are a testimony to this today. Strive for excellence in your field,” he said.

General Secretary of the GTU, Ms. Coretta McDonald said this year’s championships begun on Sunday and lasted over the past five days. However, she noted that while this year has been successful, the organisers are hoping to make 2019 different. For this to take place though, Ms. McDonald said that all hands are needed on board and every stakeholder, not just the Government and private sector, must come together to make sports and youth involvement a priority.

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