On Target
June 28, 2013

Recognising longevity in sports

We are living in a time when sporting organizations seem to just spring up, blossom, bear some fruit then wither and die.{{more}}

Usually, it is lack of continuity and passion, plus personality clashes which cause the demise of these units.

This scenario is common, except in large sporting nations, mainly in the metropolitan countries, which have strong community ties and financial wealth, and are able to solidify their sporting institutions to outlive adversities and survive.

The same is not always the case in St Vincent and the Grenadines, but there are some sporting organisations and persons who have found the mettle and stickability to withstand the almost seemingly inevitable.

So, it is no mean feat that the Maple Netball Club has had 62 years of existence and is still going strong.

The club is among one of the oldest netball set ups in the Eastern Caribbean, another reason for giving recognition to the club.

Such longevity for any organization here, given the dynamism in the sporting culture, should receive commendation of the highest order.

The pioneers of the club who had the vision in the early 1950’s must be now smiling whenever they reflect on the club’s accomplishments.

Among those who scaffolded the organisation and ensured that it was not one of those fly by night outfits, and who are still with us, are persons like Peggy Ince-Hull and Hermina Cambridge.

Today, persons like the Foster sisters — Joan Foster-Baynes and Thelma — and others, are carrying the torch and are ensuring that the continuity is maintained.

With the foundation firmly laid, another set of years can be added to Maple’s tally, which has undoubtedly attained institution status.

The flagship team of the club, Vita Malt Maple, this year achieved the double — winning the league and knockout titles of the first division of the LIME National Club Tournament. Kudos are due.

Also worthy of mention are football clubs Avenues and Pastures, which have gone through some metamorphoses over time, but have kept their names and operations for more than four decades.

Similarly, the name Saints, which has been associated with sports, namely football and cricket, from the early 1960’s, is still in existence.

Having off-loaded the football component, the cricket segment is holding on.

To underline Saints’ endurance, three years ago, when hit with demotion to the first division of the national cricket competition, most of the players, some of them senior national representatives, held firm and stuck it out, winning that division, thus returning their club to the premiership the year after.

Such resilience and shows of loyalty to the cause of their club, is a lesson for others to follow.

There are some individuals who have also given yeoman and uninterrupted service to sports in various ways.

Mention must be made of Patrick “Tall Boy” John, for his over 40 years as a groundsman at the Arnos Vale Playing Field. Although it was a paid job, turning up at the same place for more than half of one’s life must take some mental fortitude.

Also in for some commendation are cricket umpires Dillon Child and Lennox “Saga Boy” Grant, who have donned the whites in excess of thirty years.

Their contribution to cricket officiating is an exhibition of commitment, patience and temperament, which are gifts of good human conduct.

Certainly, the list of aforementioned clubs and individuals is by no means exhausted, as there are others who have fit the criteria for recognition and salute for their years of service to sports in St Vincent and the Grenadines.

What then have those highlighted by this column done to steel themselves and stay in the hunt and remain steadfast in their aim to sustain their name and achievement?

It may be a good thing for those who possess such aspirations of longevity to get their template of success and tweak it to suit.

It may not be any complex organisational acumen, but perhaps just a sheer desire to be the best at their endeavours.

If the latter is the case, then others should mirror the values and embed them in their value systems.