On Target
June 27, 2014
Empowering our young sports persons

Sports is inherently an holistic undertaking.

This should also be so for all the facets of development of the persons who are the centre, the highlighters – the players.

This reality is universal, and should be the platform for all the stages that our sportsmen and sportswomen should traverse, wherever.{{more}}

On the local scene, we here in St Vincent and the Grenadines, in the main, seem to have lost the plot or are oblivious to the importance of holistic development to the overall success of sports.

The actuality is that whilst many athletes (used here generally) are adept at their craft, they lack many of the other ingredients necessary to take them beyond their natural ability.

It makes no sense to hide our faces and erect blinders to the fact that the mental side of the players is deficient. Unfortunately, that missing asset impedes the athletes’ ability to receive instructions and more so process such information.

Coaches of various representative teams often complain of their players’ inability to think on their feet and independently assess situations. One reason sometimes given for this is the players’ lack of academic acumen.

It is also an established fact that players, even at the national level, are not blessed with the required basic literacy level; hence some find it difficult to explain or comment on matters pertaining to their respective sports.

But the inversion comes to the fore as those with the prerequisite skills and talents do not have the academics to prop them up, and those who have the intellectual capacity are devoid of the skills and have little or no talent.

Whilst this has been the case for some time now, sports is evolving to be more tactical and scientific, thus requiring more persons with the commensurate cognition.

It is for this reason that many Vincentians are reaching the bars needed to obtain sports scholarships which are on offer at colleges and universities, especially in North America.

But worrying is that resounding feeling of certainty that many of our coaches in the main pay little attention to the academic side of their charges.

Conversely, once their charges show up for training and for competitions when needed, matter fixed.

There are several stories coming out from our secondary schools especially, that many of the more favoured players in the various sporting disciplines are not performing well in terms of their academics.

There lies the critical crossroad, as many of them excel in their various endeavours, get the short- lived kudos and when they become less significant, they are on their own to fend for themselves, as they have nothing to fall back on.

The onus primarily lies with the athletes, but national associations need to take on board, where possible, programmes aimed at empowering their athletes who are struggling with the off the field issues, especially their academics.

Yes, this is done in some quarters, mostly on the initiative of some coaches and team managers.

Pursuing such routes not only helps in the overall management of the athletes, but offers that window of embrace, as they are seen as more than just performers, but persons who are looked after in other regards.

Many athletes are lost through the societal cracks because they do not have the support systems at home, and when they do not get it in their place of refuge – sports, the end is inevitable.

Understanding that not all who play sports would make it to the top, but the local ground – St Vincent and the Grenadines should be the training base for all those who choose sports as their preferred physical engagement.