On Target
January 23, 2009
Using the Obama experience in Sports

Last Tuesday, many persons the world over witnessed and celebrated the inauguration of the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama.{{more}}

It was an historic moment, a changing of the old ways and that of the status quo; the first African American to take the oath of office for the world most powerful nation.

His inauguration came a mere four months as everyone stood in awe as the Chinese unfolded a spectacle of staging the best Olympic Games in history. But the Games, the Athletics segment that is, belonged to the Jamaicans, who through Usain Bolt, did the double, winning the 100 and 200m, both in record times.

Trinidadian Richard Thompson followed Bolt to the finish line in the 100m, making it sweeter joy for us in these parts.

And Sherry Ann Fraser, Sheron Simpson and Kerron Stewart took one, two and three, in the Women’s 100m; an historic day for Track and Field for Jamaica, and the Caribbean region.

But what is freshest on our minds, like Bolt, who took the world by storm, Obama’s elevation to such a position should serve as a motivator to many of us who often get despondent of the lack of success and the trends emerging in Sports, especially here in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

But here are some things to ponder and jog our memories.

In 1979, the Caribbean stopped and took notice of this dot, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, as it defeated the likes of Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago in the Finals of the Caribbean Football Union competition, and went on the repeat the runner up feat in the same competition two years later.

In 1995, we again placed second in the Shell Caribbean Cup and earned a place in the prestigious CONCACAF Gold Cup, the year after.

In 2004, no one expected that our brand, Vincy Heat, could have almost leveled the playing field, to only restrict the mighty Mexico to a one nil win, and had chances to equalise, and in general looked the better team that October Sunday afternoon at the Arnos Vale Playing Field.

It was only last week that our Under-20 footballers finished second in the Caribbean Zone Final, and in the process beat Haiti for the first time in any sort of football competition.

So, like Obama, one can draw from his unrelenting will to reach for a position, which many thought may have never been seen.

Moreover, St. Vincent and the Grenadines should not see reaching the World Cup Finals as far-fetched a dream, but as a distant reality. No country, with a population of under a million people, has ever done so.

But who ever thought a non white would ever sit in the White House?

So let us feast, digest and use as sustenance some of the hopes that Obama, through his inauguration speech last Tuesday, and put a sporting twist to it: “Our journey has never been one of shortcuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted – for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things – some celebrated but more often men and women obscure in their labour.”

“Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends – hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism – these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths.”

Profound thoughts for us all to chew on, but if only our regional Cricket administrators will soak up these words of Obama, then we will not be scraping the bottom of the barrel in world Cricket for much longer.

What a day of rejoicing that will be if they roll up their sleeves and get serious about West Indies Cricket and what it means to Caribbean people’s psyche!!

Like Obama, there is hope. As he put it: “On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.”

But this column is hoping with a passion for the removal of that “Mound” at the Sion Hill Playing Field.

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