Actions speak louder than words
On Target
March 8, 2024
Actions speak louder than words

The Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines, Dr Ralph Gonsalves on SportsMax Zone Programme, February 28, 2024, pronounced that there needs to be a well-structured policy to assist sportsmen and sportswomen who have exhibited excellence in their respective disciplines.

Indeed, Gonsalves is right in his suggestion, as the ad hoc approach that currently exists relative to such assistance is often riddled with duplication.

Gonsalves though was reacting to the much publicised Shafiqua Maloney situation, in which she used the said SportsMax Zone programme on February 15, 2024, to expose her plight respective to lack of organized financial support to fund her Athletics programme in the USA.

Maloney, St Vincent and the Grenadines’ top female athlete, five days prior to her appearance on the television programme, ran 1:58.69, at the Tyson Invitational at Randal Tyson Track Centre in Fayetteville. Her run qualified her for the 800m at the Paris Olympics, as well as the March 1-3, World Athletics Indoor Championships that took place in Glasgow, Scotland.

The latter she had to forgo, because she is in the process of regularizing her immigration status in the USA.

As it turned out though, Maloney became the first Vincentian to make the qualification standard for a Summer Olympics.

In response to her achievement and exposure on regional television, the Gonsalves-led administration gave the undertaking (and rightfully so), to address some of Maloney’s predication and give her some ease as she prepares to compete in France in July/ August of this year.

But should we have reached this stage that the ventilation by Maloney prompted Prime Minister Gonsalves to concede that a structure of support is needed?

An emphatic no, as over time, sportsmen and sportswomen, parents or coaches, have made representation to the National Lotteries Authority; the St Vincent and the Grenadines Olympic Committee via the respective national associations/ federations and unions; their parliamentary representatives; private sector entities; as well as organisations for assistance to help defray costs towards their academic or sporting sojourns overseas.

Hence, this type of spur of the moment operations, does not augur well for any sort of meritocracy rewards, hence could lead to partisan responses.

Hopefully, much can emerge from the public/ private sector partnership that was forged to come to the aid of Maloney.

This column, in a previous exposition in May, 2023, had called on the authorities to institute a funding system that would allow those who have displayed the potential to make the transition from talent to stardom.

Then, like now, it was Maloney’s social media posts and subsequent reaching out to her needs through a GoFundMe undertaking that pricked the commentary on the issue.

We have, though, to come to grips with the reality that producing international Track and Field athletes is not a mauby and cake affair.

Therefore, we have to apply wisdom, prudence and realism in the given circumstances.

We also have to be honest with ourselves that St Vincent and the Grenadines is not awash with financial resources to dish out on every promising sportsman or sportswoman.

It has to be based on a continuous collection of data on performances, commitment to the sport and country, training regiment, among other criteria.

As such, if or when established, that committee should involve persons who understand the various academic and sporting constructs around the world, have networking capabilities, and genuinely love sports and are interested in seeing young sportsmen and sportswomen excel.

The time is opportune for the political directorate of St Vincent and the Grenadines to act and put the mechanisms in place.

Success is not cheap, neither does it come overnight. Likewise it does not come when a piece meal and laissez faire perspective is in train.