On Target
August 14, 2020
Sports to get political focus again

The five-year exercise of general elections is upon us here in St Vincent and the Grenadines.

Whilst one may just have to rely on conjecture as to when the date of this all-important exercise will take place, what cannot be denied, is that it is imminent.

What is also certain, is that whenever that bell is rung, overnight and with a touch of magic, sports, along with our sportsmen and women, would all at once become important.

They would be lauded for their efforts over the past five years, and they would be given regal status, as politicians of all the parties vying for office, line up to score points.

One can argue on the other hand that it is at this juncture that sportsmen, sportswomen and sports administrators have that trump card and can use it to good effect.

Another view is that these said politicians are cognisant of the real importance of sports, and are willing to condescend during the heightened campaign, for the ultimate objective, of being elected.

This ought not to be, as sports, by its sheer function of promoting social cohesion, is more than sufficient to get greater prominence, other than at general elections.

This column will state it categorically that the time has come for politicians to stop using sports people as pawns just for their cause.

However, one cannot baptise all in the same water, as there are some with the genuine love for sports and its developmental attributes and spin-offs for persons.

But as time draws nearer for the “silly season” to fully kick in, those who are active in sports, whether administrators or as athletes (used in general reference), are waiting patiently to hear what is in store for them.

They will come with their grandiose plans and in many instances some unrealistic projects which sound sweet to the ears.

Whilst these are common conduct practices of such persons who are not only seeking the electorate’s attention, but more so, their vote, now is the time to dissect these promises.

Hence, the young sporting stock of St Vincent and the Grenadines, many of whom have reached the voting age, have the power in their hands to make demands.

It should be demanded that policies be put in place that will ensure the upgrade and continuous maintenance of all sporting facilities across St Vincent and the Grenadines.

Sportsmen and women should ask of those who come begging for their votes, what are their intentions as it relates to procurement of scholarships, as it should not only be left to the various national sporting associations and concerned individuals who go out on a limb to have our student–athletes further their education and sporting prowess.

There should be a paradigm shift in the education system, to make provisions for those students who are more adept at sports. As a consequence, there is a need to have some schools earmarked as “sports” schools, where various sporting disciplines are taught.

Additionally, there has to to be a mechanism in place to ensure that our elite sportsmen and women get the best opportunities to hone their skills and talents. To this end, the setting up of a Performance Enhancement Fund, to provide financial and other tangible support to those who are part of the elite bracket.

This funding will go towards the worthy recipients’ training and participation in international competitions.

Also lodged in the demands to the prospective representatives, should be mandatory time off for private and public sector employees, who are in training for national teams.

And, sportsmen and women must make the peremptory request that a larger chuck of the national budget be allocated to sports.

Yes, promises can be made and broken; yes politicians can come with their blarney, as they have done before, yet when they are voted into office, they rescind on their promises and everything goes back to square one.

But the issue here is that it is time that sportsmen and women say what are their needs, instead of the politicians who come begging for their support, lay out their plans which invariably are dotted with false hopes and improbabilities.