On Target
June 10, 2011
Put the framework in place

There is that ever increasing need for a life after sports and national representation for our sportsmen and women.{{more}}

In many cases, those who have been the trailblazers for many years and bring some sporting recognition to this country have been left to drift off into insignificance.

Their contribution, in the main, is limited to the time when they burned the track, the hard courts, the fields, both here and abroad, or in any other stage plied the trade of sports.

How many of our national sportsmen and women are today shut ins, with little or no moral support by way of a visit from their contemporaries or current members of their association?

The blame to some extent can be apportioned to the national associations, which have little archival resources and policy to ensure that such persons get periodic cheering up in their periods of confinement.

Taking the argument further, indeed, there is no documented plan, whether governmental or otherwise, to ensure that persons who have given selfless service to sports can in some way reap some rewards as they enjoy their golden years, or in some unfortunate circumstance experience some tragedy or incapacitation.

And, the toothless National Sports Policy, which still is at a paper stage, with its superficial implementation, has not embraced this aspect.

At the 2010 National Sports Awards Ceremony, held last March, the featured speaker at that event, Ormiston “Ken” Boyea, called for an insurance plan for sportsmen and women, in cases of injury.

I know that under the St. Claire Leacock led St. Vincent and the Grenadines Football Federation, footballers were compensated fully for loss of income while they were on national duties, or when they were injured during training.

Is the same operation in place within the crrent Executive of the SVGFF? I doubt, except for a per diem when engaged in competitive matches on a national representative level.

I readily acknowledge that some associations and clubs/teams provide their stalwart representatives with some help in instances of mishap.

Additionally, competitions or divisions/ zones are named in honour of those who have made outstanding contributions to his/her sporting discipline.

At times, the said persons are invited to hand over the trophies or play a part in opening or closing cermonies or other official engagements put on by the organisation.

It is also true that some national associations take care of the medical expenses of persons who are injured, whether while practicing or representing the nation.

But that is as far as it gets, as it stops at the level of the respective national associations’ policies or acts of goodwill, rather than an overall embedded nationally designed framework, for attending to such eventualities.

Until state policies are put in place, national associations should shape programmes in house aimed at making provisions for those who have retired, after their years of service.

And they can do so by seeking partnerships with pharmacies, supermarkets etc., those “must go” establishments, which persons at that age would patronise, where they could earn discounts on purchases.

This could be done by issuing identification cards to facilitate such transactions.What about a monthly food or fruit basket to those who are shut in? Here, such a gesture could be in assocation with a 4H club, or other service organisation, such as the Lions, Rotary, Girl Guides, Boys Brigade, and the like.

Such beneficiaries could and should be afforded free entry at all regional and international matches hosted here under the auspicies of the national association, which they served.

One thing is certain, when a former sportsman or woman passes on to eternity, he /she is lauded for his/her contribution.

But do we have to wait until someone is dead to show our appreciation?

Maybe, just maybe, that treatment and lack of recognition meted out to them could be a reason for the disinterest shown towards sport by some of our young athletes.

And, what must also be put in place is a decision to completely remove the Mound at the Sion Hill Playing Field.