Full Disclosure
August 22, 2008
Changing the face of Windward soccer

Is Windward soccer dead or dying? To suggest that Windward soccer is dead is a gross overstatement. However, to deny that Windward soccer is not in dire need of reform amounts to a statement in denial. Anyone who understands the possibilities that the world’s greatest sport can create in a society would have no choice but to agree that these effects are not felt in the Windward areas of St. Vincent with a sufficiently deep sense of achievement.{{more}}

The solution does not reside in pointing arrows to the head of Joe Delves and the present Football Federation, neither do I wish in this article to delve into the inadequacies of the recent past under various leaderships. The way forward should be that we must not allow soccer to be hijacked by anyone, since the importance of the game to the development of our people surpasses the self interest that may be created from time to time in small football circles.

In a society where our youth are becoming involved at all levels of work, academia and volunteerism, it is paramount that we ensure that that the bond possible through sports is both existent, and functioning, to cement the many other chords which bind us as a people. Many are not impressed with the level at which the sport is currently being played. Have we failed soccer? In 2008, we still on a national level measure our success or failure at soccer based on the performance of Team SVG. While I do not agree with this form of measurement, it is clear that the failure of Team SVG impacts quite negatively on those who love the sport. Certainly, Team SVG has serious problems which must be solved with the greatest sense of urgency! Who is to be blamed? Is it the Federation, the Ministry of Sports or is it that we as a people have failed ourselves by our unwillingness to join our hands and hearts to move the sport forward?

The Ministry of Sports, the Social Investment Fund and the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Fair Trade Organization are doing an excellent job in ensuring that by the end of 2009, there are top level playing fields in numerous Windward districts. In South Central Windward there are adequate playing facilities at Antoine Level, North Union Secondary School, and intense work is to be continued in Diamonds Village and Mt. Greenan. In North Central Windward, the people of Park Hill, Colonarie, South Rivers and Georgetown can expect sporting facilities that will boost their ability to participate in the game at a higher level. The Government and other organizations which have partnered quite nicely must be congratulated for having made such an excellent contribution to infrastructural development thus far.

The poison which lies at the root of soccer, the same sport which turned Pele and Maradona into mega superstars, must seek a renewed sense of support from the village upwards. Many of our sporting groups have not been able to make the transition to deal with the challenges of a modern competitive and dynamic sporting environment. For all my life, soccer in the rural areas has not had the backing or support of a properly instituted coaching system. Jokingly, to a great extent, the sport begins with ‘raising the ball on the block, and some variation of slammings turned into nicely stringed barefooted one- two passes’ utilizing a small goal, to an ailing league seeking financial support and having to postpone the competition until the kitty is quartered. Yet our resilience informs our courage not to give in. Sometimes it is sad that such an active sport depicts an ailing man without diagnosis, limping without much vision and foresight. However, the perseverance of those who have organized football in the North East League, Marriaqua and Biabou and their sponsors will always need a renewed sense of support from the community which will act as the driving force behind our success.

The time to make a difference is now. Currently, I am aware that a plan is being re-drafted to rekindle the dim flame which the sport presently carries. The Morris brothers, through their organization Touch Masters, are expected to play an integral role in the process. This general plan is already bearing fruit with Paradise Investment Sandy Bay Carib Warriors and the sponsors Paradise Investment will be expecting similar success at the 2008 Marriaqua Football league. A detailed draft of the plan will be discussed in a future article. In closing, I join with the President of the Federation in saying that, “We have a tremendous opportunity to rebuild football from the grassroot up.” Let the building begin!

Saboto Caesar is a Lawyer and Unity Labour Party Senator.