July 23, 2004
Politics and Sports

Former calypso King, Errol ‘Age’ Rose, in one of his 2004 compositions made a plea “to keep politics out of carnival.”
As farfetched as that may be, and with the deep-rooted nature of politics, some persons will perhaps be singing the same tune with slightly different lyrics. They may be saying, “keep the politics out of sports.”{{more}}
That again will be perceived as wishful thinking, for there is hardly any separation between any aspect of sport and politics. Or, at least, it depends on one’s acceptance of the reality of today’s situation.
Two major sporting events are around the corner. St. Vincent and the Grenadines has advanced to the second stage of World Cup Football qualifiers. The local Football Federation is trying to sharpen Team SVG’s readiness for their next round of matches against Trinidad and Tobago, St. Kitts/Nevis and Mexico.
Traditionally, Team SVG holds its own against its Caribbean counterparts, but falters whenever the opponents carry a Central American tag.
No wonder fans were overjoyed with the victory over Nicaragua. Efforts towards qualification are getting more serious; therefore a more concerted thrust is needed if we are to do justice to our second round matches. It is commendable that measures have been made to enhance our chances of progress. However, some seriousness must be adopted and the goodwill of the entire Diaspora must be tapped in order to authenticate our chances. No one must use or abuse the progress of our footballers.
Everything ought to be done properly, and the mess, which plagued our football before, must not continue.
Football administrators have to work with government and the opposition to ensure that the advance is truly a national affair.
In many countries, soccer has been a unifying force, crossing the political divide and serving as a sense of healing. So no one must feel that the game is his or her portfolio, no matter what position he or she holds.
The other big event has more of a regional flavour. St. Vincent and the Grenadines is not hosting matches in the International Cricket Committee’s 2007 World Cup. The allocations have been made and the entire Caribbean should rise to the occasion.
Congratulations to those nations hosting matches. Eight nations have the responsibility of getting their countries ready for the gala event.
No one begrudges any of them their fortune. In the end, the entire Caribbean region stands to benefit manifold.
The failed Caribbean Federation, which ended in 1962, continues to haunt the area. Perhaps the staging of the ICC World Cup, 57 years after the attempted Federation, is another opportunity for us to take a deep breath, reflect and realise that we can postpone Caribbean unity no longer. There is too much at stake and the more time we linger, the longer it will take us to harness our resources and enhance our economic well being.
We have to be broad minded and think beyond narrow political borders, and embrace the region as, like the Caricom Single Market and Economy, one economic space.