Persons who are heavily involved in sports would have been thoroughly disappointed in both major politicial parties, the Unity Labour Party (ULP) and the New Democratic Party (NDP), in what was presented in their manifestos.
With the youths holding the trump card going into next week’s crucial general elections, one would have thought that more would have been said about the development of sports.
Unfortunately, both parties have missed the boat and have passed up on an opportunity to present to the youths of St Vincent and the Grenadines, a Sports Manifesto.
Yes, the political parties have included their intentions for the next five years as it regards sports, if elected next Thursday.
Perusing the two manifestos, one gets the impression that those who fashion development policies, believe sports is all about hard courts and playing fields.
The ULP, though, has stated in their Youth Manifesto, that they would prioritise the granting of university scholarships and tuition assistance to young Vincentians who show promise in a number of athletic pursuits.
Additionally, that Youth Manifesto proferred that its government would provide or fund improved training opportunities for coaches, officials and trainers and establish more scholarship opportunities for talented youth in the cultural and sporting fields.
Maybe, these political parties are being swayed by the demands of the populace, who often measure sporting development merely by the improvements in the number of facilities.
Whilst these physical structures are important, sporting development goes beyond, and the enhancement of the human capital must go parallel with the infrastructure.
To be honest St Vincent and the Grenadines currently is well served with playing fields and hard courts.
Such is the case with the stock, that some are under-used. One would readily accept that there are some need for sprucing up here and there, but not the wholescale increase in the numbers as proposed in the case of the NDP.
So we are back to square one, however, this column will fill the void left by both parties in their attempt to woe the youth electorate of this country.
The following are some of the reccommendations this column would like to see in a Sports Manifesto:
n Greater share of the national budgetary allocated to sports
n Place sports at the focal point for the youths and national development
n Proper planning in the allocation of sporting facilities
n Establishment of a sports for all programme from the pre-schools to the St Vincent and the Grenadines Community College
n The placement of Physical Education in the primary schools
n Provision of physical education support to all pre-schools
n Tax break incentives for businesses and individuals who contribute significantly to sports
n Review and enforce the current National Sports Policy
n Bring under one umbrella, the Division of Sports and Physical Education and the National Sports Council
n Provide ease in the customs duties and charges for equipment to be used by sports clubs
n Reconfigure the ministries so that Education and Sports are twinned
n Convert and retrofit two of the secondary schools into sports specifics institutions
n Have specific sports programmes for drop-outs and at risk youths
n Give greater support to the Police Youth Club’s Sports programme
n An improved and more structured policy on sports tourism
n Establish an annual sporting event that appeals to regional and international participation
n Have a structured system for the appointment of national sporting ambassadors
n The establishment of a national Sports Hall of Fame
These are just some of the more critical aspects that this column would have put in its manisfesto, was it either of the major political parties here in St Vincent and the Grenadines.
Hopefully, the electorate who will be making their decisions next Thursday which will affect them for the next five years, would really and truly pay greater attention to the manifestos, as they are social contracts with you and the political parties.
And, as this country moves into high gear of campaigning this week and into next week, this column hopes for poise, calm, civility and most of all, God’s guidance.