Our Readers' Opinions
October 13, 2006

‘The will must exceed the skill’

Contributed by R. Andrew Cummings


Our national footballers are “riding high” in the Digicel Cup having reached the semi finals. Not since the 1979 – 1983 epoch of Caribbean Football Union (C.F.U) tournaments have we bestrode Caribbean football like giants. Our recent victories remind us that it is not the size of the country that matters but moreso the size of the spirit and fight from within. The humbling of Jamaica, in particular, puts us in the top league in the Caribbean but we must be mindful that we still have to fight on. Do we have the capacity and the will to be really conquering giants regionally and internationally?{{more}}

A Serious Charge

Zoran Vranes our football technical director, according to the Vincentian newspaper of 11th August 2006 at page 45, lamented “Talent yes, commitment no. The lax attitude is causing serious problems for players to advance even though they are more talented than other players in the region.” Zoran was echoing a widely peddled view of Caribbean people by the outside world. We have all heard of the myth of the lazy West Indian. This meaningless stereotype has gotten into our minds – this must be our first battle ground.

Lee Kwan Yew the Prime Minister, as he then was, of Singapore opined a few years ago on a visit to Jamaica that we seem to have forgotten hard work after slavery. Some tourist magazines and brochures portray the Caribbean islands as destinations of sun, fun and rum. Unlike the Pacific basin countries, it is said, we lack the vision, the energy, the discipline, the will and the work ethic to be significant players in the global scene. I humbly beg to disagree.

Our Achievements

It is well known that the Caribbean has produced a vast number world class scholars (including three (3) Nobel Laureates), technocrats, professionals, and distinguished sportsmen and women in the fields of cricket, athletics, netball, football and even golf. We must not berate ourselves in our quest for excellence.

The Issues

Zoran’s indictment raises fundamental issues of a historical, cultural, socio-economic and educational nature. The constraint of time and space do not allow each of these to be addressed here. For sure, however, Small Island Developing States with struggling economies in a hostile and highly competitive global environment cannot afford the quality facilities, coaches and wages which world class football demands.

Some Partial Answers

Maybe we can make a small start on a step by step basis if as a nation we embrace the following:

a) All great achievers in every field of human endeavour have implemented the mantra popularised by Mohammed Ali. “The Will must exceed the Skill”. Ask Michael Jordan of Basketball fame and Tiger Woods the golfing hero among others?

b) Every effort must be made to re-mould attitudes to meet the scriptural injunction “By the sweat of thy brow thou shall eat bread”. The thrust must become the function of the home, the church, the community, the school, the media and other organizations/institutions.

A new curriculum for the infants to emphasise patriotism, self-worth, the pursuit of excellence, honour, justice and accomplishment in the areas of science and technology which are so woefully lacking in our part of the world and which are so necessary for ‘take off”.

Departure Lounge

Is it not true to say that we shall remain seated in the departure lounge forever awaiting “take off” to lofty heights unless we put on our “flying wings”?

We can do it together by beginning purposefully NOW.