On Target
September 17, 2010

Just For the Fun?

When former President of the St. Vincent and the Football Association Basil “Bung” Cato some years ago coined the saying: “Soccer, Soccer, the game of the people”, he was not only making a sociological observation, but was charting a way for continued development of the sport.{{more}}

More than three decades later, we seem not yet ready to indentify with the latter intent.

Our Football has, in my estimation, not progressed in the manner it should have, from that time.

We have more persons playing the sport, more opportunities available to our players, administrators, coaches and other personnel.

Equally, there has been an increase in the number of playing facilities and the quality of such, as well as greater publicity for Football via the media.

Years ago, Football did not have the benefit of an annual draw down of US$250,000 from FIFA and other benefits.

Yet, many other facets have not been heeding these developments, hence, our administrative output has not measured up with the input.

So, when last week Friday and Saturday, the Executive of the St. Vincent and the Football Federation(SVGFF) chose to hold a capacity building workshop and the response was not as it should be, shows how much we love Football, but in my estimation, we are in it, just for the fun.

Yes, the local Football administrative body, the Executive of the SVGFF, must be blamed to some extent, for the short notice for such an important exercise, but with many giving the assurance that they would attend despite the late notice and did not do so, is an indicator of where we are with our Football.

We seem just to want to have a sweat, have competitions, fulfill that social mandate locally, and feel we are done and have achieved greatness.

Football is too important a cog in our quest for social transformation for us to be slighting the opportunities for advancement to a higher level.

We have not learnt from the experiences of the 1990’s when Rodney “Chang” Jack landed a professional Football contract in England, but was surely short changed because we did not have that commercial value attached to our players.

The present Executive and those to follow must endeavour at all times to up its game as it seeks to provide guidance for those teams with the aspiration of becoming viable entities. The units have their responsibility as well to make this happen. Time is not waiting on us; we have to make the time.

Yes, Football here in the St. Vincent and the Grenadines is an amateur sport, but that does not mean that we have to be forever stuck in that mode, and think and operate likewise.

Professionalism is an attitude that we should all strive to engender in our psyche.

We saw what was demanded of both Avenues and System 3 when they ventured out in the Club Championships qualifiers earlier this year. Whilst not a novel experience to St. Vincent and the Grenadines in this type of competition, the game, expectations and other administrative drills have increased over time.

Our clubs did not falter because we lack the skills and the will to win, but we are many years behind our Caribbean counterparts in terms of that professionalisation on and off the field calls for.

Still in the mode that we are playing Football just for fun, I had reason to re-visit the names of some of our units which are playing in the Football leagues at this time.

After this column’s exposition last year on the said matter, some new ones have emerged this year.

We are hearing of “Set-low-fuh-Dem”, “Young Togs” pronounced as it is, but we know the connotations.

As we push for that professional approach, these are the little things that also need to be corrected by administrators of the leagues.

Maybe our media houses should take a firm stance and not broadcast or publish such names.

But the Mound at the Sion Hill Playing Field is there, also just for the fun.