GTTA Head, Nandlall a perfect example
By Edison Jefford
Last week when I examined the delay of the Guyana Amateur Basketball Federation (GABF) in holding its Elections, which I argued was primarily to handpick the President, I inadvertently led that thesis to how that practice can painfully backfire.
Handpicking leading political or corporate figures to head national sport associations has become such a norm that it is almost impossible for serious laymen to penetrate the hierarchy of those that they may be interested in at Annual General Meetings.
While it has worked in some cases like the plethora of Lawn Tennis events that followed the new Guyana Lawn Tennis Association President, Christopher Ram, it has sourly backfired in some of the more popular instances like Table Tennis.
For the further understanding of readers, the concept of handpicking a leader of an association is not merely choosing a figure and putting him in the highest seat, the practice has democratic and constitutional groundings within the association’s framework.
When I use the term ‘handpick’, I am speaking of the systematic and strategic approach of those associations in idealising an individual, who they might deem fit for a particular post, and giving that figure credence through an electoral process.
What that does is subtlety weed out accusations of corruption, but Presidents of associations are usually known in the grapevines long before they actually assume the post. I want to address the shortcomings of that process in relation to local sport. When Anil Nandlall became President of the Guyana Table Tennis Association (GTTA), I was at least surprised because he was leading among other candidates. The foundation on his behalf had already been laid for him to take the top office.
In an extensive interview with this writer, following his election, Nandlall spoke about his vision to link the sport to the corporate community among other areas such as the schools’ programme in an effort to decentralise table tennis from Georgetown.
Since that interview which was more than a year and half ago, Nandlall has drifted into obscurity in relation to the national association. Nothing is heard of him and his active role in developing a promising sport and he is not seen around events.
The table tennis association is an extremely active and vibrant association with many outstanding local, regional and international successes to boast over the years, but the election of Attorney-at-Law, Nandlall has not worked in its favour, sadly.
Nandlall was supposed to have been a bridge between the association and Government, given the known fact that sport cannot develop without the input of Government at some level. The GTTA had that insight and wanted to benefit from his influence.
However, it has not worked and I will prove how it has backfired though Table Tennis continues to enjoy one of the better relationships with the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport and further, the National Sports Commission, because it performs.
The Ministry released at its year-end press conference a figure of $139 million, which they stated was spent on developing sport and programmes. The Ministry said that they spent $90 million of that $139 million to train coaches and sport personnel.
In my research, I contacted the GTTA to find out if any of their programmes and coaches got the financial support of government, which would have had to come from the $139 million that they claimed to have spent during the fiscal year of 2009.
The answer was no. The table tennis association did not benefit from that $139 million, which is an extremely disappointing reality-one because of Nandlall’s influence with Government and two because of the GTTA’s stalled schools’ programme. If Nandlall was supposed to have been the bridge toward helping the association procure funding and other benefits from Government, then negotiation from his end would have chalked up much needed funds for the association’s schools programme at least.
I understand that approximately $15 million of that reported $139 million would have placed one table in each school at least in target areas. However, the mechanism of exploiting this option did not prove fruitful. It is not clear if it was even considered.
But Nandlall should have had a hands-on approach in ensuring that his association gets a fraction of a very lucrative sum. That did not happen. The Executive of the GTTA should all question the purpose of their President given the Ministry’s $139 million revelation.
The GTTA is moving ahead without Nandlall’s input, however, and has procured an alternative in getting the equipment for its schools’ programme. The shipment should arrive in Guyana within the coming weeks out of a sponsorship deal.
The point is that within his spheres of influence, Nandlall has not accomplished much as GTTA President and that is where handpicking leaders of sport associations can backfire. Associations need people who are serious about the work and not just the office.
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