On Target
August 17, 2007

Looking below the surface

Each year this country goes through the motion of participating in the Windward Islands School Games. Occupation of the last place has been enjoyed three times in the past five years.{{more}}

And each time this occurs there is the rhetoric that the team will start training earlier next year.

But the answer is clear that who fails to prepare must prepare to fail. This country is contented to boast of winning netball each year and finishing last or near the bottom in the others. The other three islands have come to the realisation that they cannot compete with us in this discipline; hence they put emphasis on the other disciplines: Athletics, Basketball, Football and Volleyball.

St. Vincent and the Grenadines have not lost a netball match at these games for many years, but that is only one sport.

I am not advocating that winning is everything, but it is a stimulus to greater performances. So with no focus or objective, most of the 40 odd athletes, who are selected each year, see the exercise as one to participate rather than compete.

I will maintain that the games are an end of year vacation for many students; this is not their fault, but because of the lack of emphasis on sports by the relevant authorities.

The students, cognizant of this fact, just do enough to make the final cut.

Mind you, the games are sanctioned by the various Ministries of Education, but when on the home front one official is alleged to have repeated that sports is a waste of instructional time, then why should we complain at the placing each year?

Whatever our representative teams do on sporting assignments is a reflection of the planning and execution capacity of all of us.

Looking below the surface, our team was deemed to perform badly, with the various coaches getting the blame. Wrongly so, as the general standard of sports in the school and the nation as a whole is at an all time low.

This down turn stems from lack of facilities, lack of innovative ideas in light of this constraint, non-commitment and the thrust of some coaches.

Whatever are the root causes, getting back to the top is important at least to build the esteem of the young people who sometimes unjustifiably are all lumped as bad.

And to show the sponsors that their money is well spent.

First we must establish a clear purpose for taking part in the games, as well as a review of the selection process. The allegations of the “hanky panky” and horse trading that occur in the final squad must become history and persons should be chosen on merit.

I had cause in a previous exposition to advise that the newly formed Physical Education and Sports Teachers Association (PESTA), the Department of Physical Education and Sports and the Ministry of Education find a common ground on the way forward for sports. All entities in their various roles are impacting on sports in the schools, but are too pre-occupied with establishing chauvinism as authoritative figures, while sports remains in its prolonged state of slumber.

Also it may be time to involve more persons outside of this spectrum in the preparation of the team, as it is clear that one individual per discipline cannot do it alone.

The games must be looked at holistically as too often the coach that wins his or her discipline accepts the praise, but overall the team does not do well. A concerted effort starting at this juncture to get ourselves out of this rot is pertinent or we will continue to be “Spinning our tops in mud”.

But these suggestions are meaningless if Sports and Physical Education are not part of the centrality of national development.

While not novel proposals, for too long the indifference in sports has taken root while others are up and running with programmes which we too can adopt.

But what has taken root is the prolonged silence of the Local Organising Committee (LOC) on the status of the three newly refurbished grounds, Arnos Vale, Sion Hill and Stubbs.

And the poor decision to put the mound at the Sion Hill Playing Field is being exposed every time there is heavy rainfall.

A stitch in time saves nine, if corrective measures are not put to this unwanted addition to the field, much of the investment will go down the “drain”.

email: kingroache@yahoo.com