On Target
September 25, 2015
Surveying our sporting land space

If one cuts across the contours of all sporting disciplines practised in St Vincent and the Grenadines, one common denominator is revealed — the presence of talent.

A further evaluation would show that each discipline has some achievement currency banked, either regionally or internationally.{{more}}

Which then begs the question, why is St Vincent and the Grenadines not getting more out of sports, than what has already been attained?

Up front, there surely will be arguments advanced about the inevitable debilitating and hindering factors of the unavailability of facilities and financial resources.

Whilst true to some extent, our stumbling blocks lie in the fact that sport here is treated as a recreational exercise; hence, that amateur approach is embedded in our psyche and the results follow in that manner.

Holistically, we seem to have the contentment of the sporadic glories that come our way and rest until our circle of minimal success is had again.

And, there are many pointers which are acted on which give rise to this assessment.

For instance, our national senior football team have been perennial entrants to the semi-finals of the CONCACAF Zone of World Cup Qualifiers and there ends our campaign every four years.

This year is no exception, as the team has qualified to the group phase and again will be punching above their weight class. The match-ups are often misfits for us, because of our approach to the exercise in its totality, a happening which does not necessarily have to be so.

With proper planning, our team, as others in the region have done, should scout every nook and cranny to find those qualified Vincentians who ply their trade professionally to add to the home-grown players, who are amateurs in their own context.

This is not to say that automatically, St Vincent and the Grenadines would be a fixture at the hexagonal stage, but at least there would be attempts to do better.

But we are far from serious as the current team goes forward.

There is still a free-for-all, as players are allowed to participate in other leagues with teams other than their clubs. This relaxing of the standards is on par with the way the occasion is slighted.

Also, the four-year wait for preparations to the group stage cannot cut it, as the demands go beyond such fly-by-night effort.

One can safely say that had proper planning been put in place since the first outing at the World Cup Qualifiers in 1992, then we should not have to be fumbling to know what to do, which buttons have to be pushed and to get the process in train.

Similarly, our cricketers may get a look in on the West Indies teams at all levels, only to be the last to be selected and the first to be dropped.

We have seen over the years, those players with the potential, especially at the Under-19 age group, simply fade into irrelevance, as there was and still is, a lack of those mechanisms to ensure upward mobility.

And, this machinery has little to do with facilities or money, but with mentoring, strategic planning and implementation; in fact, the whole works that would enable players to move through the rungs of progression.

Again, satisfaction is greeted as a premium with the little gains which accrue from our cricketers’ little attainments.

The same is the case for the other major sports – namely netball and track and field, as the minimum effort is exerted in getting past the shores of St Vincent and the Grenadines.

These two are facing a fixation of different magnitude, with the former heading towards being in the rudderless category, as little is channelled towards elevating ourselves from the status of a non-ranked team on the world stage.

This column has always been and will always advocate that all national sporting organizations can do better than their present output, as none is immune.

What is needed, though, is a forensic analysis of each discipline, before we can begin to achieve our optimum in sports, which can then transcend to national development.