– Ministers say at Heritage Sports launchVICE-President and Minister of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs Sydney Allicock and Minister within the Ministry Valerie Garrido-Lowe echoed sentiments of unity, sportsmanship and progression at the launch at the 2019 Heritage Games, last night at the Everest Cricket Club ground.Both ministers impressed upon the athletes, who were selected to represent their respective regions, that it was time to take their skills to the next level.Vice-President Allicock said that sport is a universal language, one that transcends ethnicity, creed, and belief. He said that as a tool it was extremely important for national development and to foster unity.Mr. Allicock added that the ministry and by extension, the government, is aware of the importance of sports and will continue to invest in the Heritage Games. He challenged the athletes, who will, over the next three days, compete in football, cricket, volleyball, swimming and archery, to put their best foot forward and to showcase their craft with pride.He said that the games were an opportunity to educate others about the indigenous culture and way of life, about changing the stereotypical beliefs and about uniting by fighting against hate and negativity. The minister also implored the teams to prepare better. He said that better prepared teams would assist the ministry to fast track their preparations, which will create better Heritage Games in the future.“The games would continue to grow….Plan early. After the three days you must be able to reflect on your mistakes and start planning for 2020, so we don’t have much hiccups in the future.”Both ministers lauded the games for its importance in promoting national unity. Minister Allicock said that there are already signs that the games are one of the only activities that brings Guyanese together. He challenged the sports representatives to grow from the event.“Take time to meet with others, take time to meet with your peers, take time to look to the future….Our mission is to unity this country.” He also beseeched the athletes to put their best foot forward, to have the right attitude in their respective disciplines and to show the quality that comes from Indigenous communities.Minister Garrido-Lowe said that Heritage Games bring Guyanese people together.“We feel like one.”The junior minister, who was first to address the audience, reminded the athletes that Heritage Games was the biggest on the calendar of events of Heritage Month. She told them that with growth comes necessary changes and that upholding rules and regulations were crucial for them to move forward.Minister Lowe said that she was elated with the dynamics of Indigenous sports, especially football that is becoming mainstream with more players reaching higher levels.She said that the Guyana Football Federation (GFF) would be at the games to discover the talent on display.The minister added that if players want to take their game to the next level, they have be discipline, they have to be good losers and always respect the sport and their opponents despite the results.Along with the two ministers, other members of the ministry and Director of Sport, Christopher Jones, were also at the launch.Today football kicks off the games from 9:30hrs. The teams will battle until 13:00hrs then the cricketers take to the field.On Saturday the archery competition’s qualifying round will be held (registration takes place on Saturday morning), with the semi-finals and final on Sunday from 11:00hrs.Archers will have to shoot at targets from 10, 15 and 25 metres, while the finalists will have to shoot at a moving target. Meanwhile, swimming is scheduled for Saturday at the National Aquatic Centre.