A renewal at 40 for sports
On Target
October 11, 2019
A renewal at 40 for sports

It is quite timely and fitting that as we celebrate our 40 years of political independence, there is a national programme dubbed “Renewal at 40”.

The renewal activities which are considered multifaceted, are aimed at the preservation of some of the historical sites, cultural centres, community centres, schools and resource centres, the clean-up of capital Kingstown, among other undertakings, such as Garifuna and Diaspora homecoming.

Unfortunately, when the policymakers were engaging their thoughts in the Renewal at 40 programme, no one thought of the importance of sports as a vital sector which can assist in national development, as St Vincent and the Grenadines heads to five decades of political independence.

As it is 40 years back, SVG’s sports is in need of a renewal of sorts.

Lest, these with the purse strings and the shapers of government policies be aware, that from 1979 to 2019, sports has played an integral part in moving us from various stages of that Vincentian identity.

Across the sporting disciplines, St Vincent and the Grenadines, over the past 40 years, has produced sportsmen and sportswomen of note.

Whilst not in droves and with an acceptable level of regularity, several Vincentians (men and women), have gone on to play test cricket, One -Day Internationals and Twenty/20 internationals, for the West Indies.

Added, a handful of our footballers have been able to ply their trade professionally in Europe, North America and Asia.

Too, a few Vincentian basketballers have broken through the barriers to play in the NBA/WNBA and in Europe.

These complement those whose talents have placed SVG on the map, by being part of the USA’s National Football League (NFL).

Then, there are others who have made the nation proud with their performances regionally.

Among them were the national senior men’s football teams of 1979 and 1981, that placed second in the Caribbean tournament.

This was repeated in 1995, with the outfit then, making St Vincent and the Grenadines’ debut at the 1996 CONCACAF Gold Cup in the USA.

Also, some of our track and field athletes have gained medals at the North American, Central American and Caribbean ( NACAC) games, the Central American and Caribbean (CAC) games, Commonwealth Games as well as other championships, enough to show that St Vincent and the Grenadines possesses some sporting pedigree.

And, there have been some worthy mentions and other disciplines, all under the banner of this country.

The efforts of those aforementioned, along with the expertise of our administrators who have served diligently on sub-regional, regional and international sporting bodies, and who have left their marks because of their expertise, and have made sports here a better entity.

So, aren’t these accomplishments warranted some national reflections and reinvention?

One would have thought that sports would have occupied pride of place such that it would have been noted as part of the renewal initiative.

Certainly, no one can now diplomatically say that the timing of the Sports Against Crime Initiative is strategically part of the renewal, when sports is not listed in the renewal undertakings.

Admittedly, there were some fleeting mentions of revival of traditional games, but there has not been anything concrete put forward in any sustained manner, to indicate that sports and “games”, hold any significance.

Sports, therefore, must be seen within the same light as the plans for the refurbishing of historical and cultural buildings.

What about the refreshing and repairs of some of the sporting facilities that are in dire need of a face-lift and some infrastructural attention?

During the last 40 years, sports in some way has been able to build the psyche of Vincentians home and abroad.

Sports, although in a small way, has provided some economic ease on the country as a whole, through direct investment, draw downs from the various international parent bodies, remuneration and remittances from those who live by sports, as well as from hosting and spin-offs from sports tourism.

As we embark on the national celebrations of this country’s 40 years of political independence, let us all stop, think and reflect, that sports is in need of a renewal.

Sports needs to be a central undertaking as that vehicle for social transformation, social cohesion and promotion of a healthy nation.