On Target
January 8, 2016
Focus of attention

As the fortunes of various sporting disciplines here in St Vincent and the Grenadines unfold in drips, there still remains time for stock- taking.

Primarily, most sporting associations have the hosting of competitions, along with the winning of trophies, titles and tournaments, as the main barometer for gauging their successes.

Some, however, equate the stability of their organizations and the ability to stay intact with minimal administrative hiccups as their yardstick of achievements.

But how many place emphasis on getting more of their players out on the regional or international markets or having them secure scholarships overseas?

Maybe the time is ripe for those national associations, within their long- term development plans, to look at such and work towards them.

The reality of the Vincentian situation is that because of our size, the absence of a sports culture and of course financial and infrastructural resources, St Vincent and the Grenadines in most cases, will find itself punching above its weight class.

Time after time, individuals and teams will get to that point and no further, as the bases were not set for them to outdo their competitors.

Oftentimes, these processes are reassessed, but the same result is had when another venture is undertaken.

Therefore, with this reality check known, it is the next best option to make the most of what is available.

We now should revert to the days of the 1980s and 1990s when track and field athletes would search for opportunities to attend US colleges, not only for their athletics pursuits, but their academic upliftment.

And, history does not lie, as many have become world record holders, but have made decent living from their career choices, having fully utilized their scholarships.

Incidentally, the cycle has turned and avenues are again opening up for such persons to capitalize on.

But are our administrators making such efforts priority in their scheme of operations?

Like track and field, a harvest is in store for several of our young footballers, as scouts are now compassing the Caribbean landscape to search for raw talent, as their efforts elsewhere have not realized and fulfilled their objectives.

In the case of St Vincent and the Grenadines, on whose part should the push come?

Should the onus always be on the St Vincent and the Grenadines Football Federation’s executive or should individual teams/ clubs take on the task?

What about the Ministry of Tourism, Sports and Culture? Should they too add another responsibility to the portfolio, by seeking out opportunities for our young sportsmen or women?

Or is that the job of the Ministry of Education?

Should both government departments just be contented in piggybacking on successful applicants, then gloat and become visible, making pronouncements of how much they made inputs?

Ideally, though all stakeholders should endeavour to get players out, even if it is for their personal development, then some progress would have been attained.

And, this effort should not be gender-biased, as the growth of women’s football is rapid.

As recently as last August, the determination of Ian Sardine resulted in three of his female footballers of the System Three set-up embarking on a football and career path via a US college.

Closer, Trinidad and Tobago hosted its maiden semi-professional women’s football league and had to look outside for imports to suffice their rosters.

Unfortunately, St Vincent and the Grenadines missed the flight and the inaugural league went on without any Vincentian representation. But the case was not the same with a trio of male national players who journeyed to Guyana and have good reviews.

Also, during last year, more national footballers were sought out by the semi-pro league in Antigua and Barbuda and the long-standing arrangement with several local players with a Barbados Premier Division is fast becoming a permanent marriage.

Despite the shortcomings of the three situations and the misgivings which some people highlight, the fact is the players are being exposed to structured coaching day in and day out, which can only benefit their psyche and our football in the long run.

Experience adds to the players’ resumé and can only augur well for those players who are in the mix.

These outings should be used as stepping stones for bigger things, as we have seen with Oalex Anderson and Myron Samuel, whose stints in Antigua and Barbuda and Barbados, respectively, have propelled them to greater things with the Seattle Sounders 2 in the United Soccer League.

The focus of our sports administrators has to change or be rearranged and it must be done soonest, as creating openings for their charges should head up their operations, instead of making vain attempts to fill the trophy cabinets and scoop those few and far between accolades.