… New category for companiesTHE National Sports Awards ceremony is set for April 21 and will be hosted as a black tie dinner for the nominees at the Savannah Suite, Pegasus Hotel.According to Director of Sport Christopher Jones, the hosting of last year’s ceremony in a ‘Grammy-style’ format did not garner the kind of attendance that was hoped for, so now the ceremony will take the form of a dinner.“It was with the hope that we would have had a larger participation, but I didn’t see the result we were looking for.“So the sports award this year will take the format of a sports award and dinner. All the sports awardees who would have been nominated would be invited to a dinner at a whole black-tie affair,” Jones explained.Following deliberations, the varying sporting associations and federations are expected to be contacted by this month to begin submitting their nominations.In other changes, the awards list is also expected to see the addition of an award for companies that are ardent supporters of sports; as a means of letting the companies know that their work is greatly appreciated by the government.“We will be adding companies, companies that would have been supportive to sports throughout the year. That is a category that we would want to insert,” Jones said.Jones has been advocating for some time now the idea of rewarding businesses that invest in sports, even going as far as to ponder the idea of engaging the Ministry of Finance in discussions of tangibly giving back to the companies.“The National Sports Commission (NSC) will have a conversation with the Ministry of Finance so we can say that these corporate companies have been investing heavily in sports, and we would want them to see the reciprocity of their spending; so that tax exemption, tax breaks, tax waivers could be had for those companies as an impetus to encourage them to continue to invest in sports development.“We’re hopeful that in 2017 those discussions can go further so that we at some stage can make a pronouncement that this is the position,” Jones had declared earlier last month.On the question of perhaps even tangible awards for the sportspersons who win their nominations, Jones affirmed that there’s nothing being considered at the moment. However, it is something that could be considered, more so if any company would like to sponsor any part of it.“That is important, that is something I fully endorse but I think over time we could see expense. If by chance a corporate company would want to come on board and provide a cash incentive, I would welcome that. But from the department itself we wouldn’t include that as an incentive,” Jones stated.With the current system, awardees are usually only bestowed a trophy, and the honour of being able to say they won their nomination. Additionally, however, last year’s winners were treated to a trip to the Kaieteur Falls.The National Sports Awards is an annual ceremony where athletes and other sportspersons are honoured for their involvement in sports in Guyana.The nominations are submitted by the associations and then the winners are selected by a panel of judges, who decide based on their performance during the preceding year.While in previous years the awardees would be announced prior to the night of the ceremony, last year the awardees were not announced until the night of the ceremony.Motor racer, Kristian Jeffrey and the multi-talented Alisha Fortune are the reigning Sportsman- and Sportswoman-of-the-Year respectively, while table tennis player Chelsea Edghill is the Junior Sportswoman-of-the-Year and badminton’s Narayan Ramdhani is the Junior Sportsman-of-the-Year.