Over the past two weeks, one of the topical issues making the rounds in the Vincentian sporting circles, has been national female athlete, Shafiqua Maloney’s public pronouncements.
Essentially, Maloney lamented the travails she experiences to obtain the necessary funding to extend her career in the sport.
While it is nothing new for some national sportsmen and sportswomen to use social media to highlight their predicaments, Maloney’s case seemed to have gained a lot of traction in the public domain.
And, reactions have been varied depending on one’s understanding of sport. While some chose to spew apparently uninformed opinions, the issue did not escape those with their political agenda.
Unfortunately, in the whole exchange it has come out from some that every person who represents the ‘three diamonds’ is eligible or entitled to assistance whenever the need arises.
In the circumstances, the fragile minds of our young sporting stock, naively embrace that entitlement attitude, although they have not gained any acceptable level of accomplishment.
This, as they are misled by some corners of society who are not true to them, but who are misguided or just mischievous.
They make it out that St Vincent and the Grenadines is awash with money, therefore all can get their fill, once they have shown some abilities whether at the club or national stages.
On the other side of the fence, there are persons who have been beneficiaries of local funding and have been silent.
It then begs the question, should the sitting government or any future configuration decide to invest millions of dollars to help our sportsmen and sportswomen, in preference to other areas of development would that be fine with current critics?
With the present situation at hand, the predicament looms large with the government and other state agencies as it will open a flood gate as the precedence will be established.
Despite the foreseen challenges, this column strongly believes there is a need for a national effort towards ensuring that those sportsmen and sportswomen who show promise of moving to a next level are helped.
We also have to be honest with ourselves that it takes more than just the government, the National
Lotteries Authority and the St Vincent and the Grenadines Olympic Committee that should carry the burden of making that nexus for the sportsmen and sportswomen.
But, we are not big on sports here in St Vincent and the Grenadines so that private sector partnership is, and will continue to be a struggle.
Likewise, we do not have vibrant alumni operation, not strong community groupings that will offer that support and sustenance for those who show promise and are worthy of investment.
In saying so, it must also be factored in that we should aim for the best that we can offer with our present state in sports, instead of thinking about becoming world beaters.
Realistically, a Vincentian becoming a world champion in the competitive global sporting arena anytime soon, is a pipe dream.
But as the debate rages on, one though has to understand Maloney’s frustrations as she has to grasp at every opportunity to fulfil what may be one of her lifelong ambitions, that is, to make Athletics her foremost career.
However, when placed into context and realism is applied, our sportsmen and sportswomen, especially those in Track and Field, who harbour thoughts of becoming pro-athletes, the chips and chances are heavily stacked against them.
As such our athletes are at a distinct disadvantage, as even though they migrate to the “ greener pastures”, they have to be exceptional to get to that stage.
Hence, that can be the reason why we have not produced such a person as yet.
Putting things into context, to become a pro -athlete it takes more than simply being afforded monies for competition.
Critically, sponsors do not throw monies behind sportsmen and sportswomen at their beck and call, as persons most possess a library of excellence throughout their sojourn in whatever sporting discipline.
As a consequence, our young sportsmen and sportswomen should first ensure that they make good of the educational opportunities offered them through sports.
They MUST keep in mind that they are student-athletes, as their academics should hold pride of place.
It is time to change the narrative and let sports be the driver to the destination of achievement into a career path.