Sep 05, 2012 Sports Comments Off on Beyond the shadow of a doubt
By Rawle Welch
Recently, two articles written by two outstanding Caribbean citizens offered a pragmatic scenario about many aspects of life in the Region, but more significantly about the tribulations sport faces in its quest to expand, especially here in Guyana.
After reading the two articles it swiftly made me reflect on some of the pronouncements uttered by Director of Sport Neil Kumar and President of the Guyana Olympic Association (GOA) K.A. Juman Yassin shortly after the media assessed the lackluster performances of our athletes at the recently concluded London Olympics.
As someone who has repeatedly castigated local Sports Administrators for their lack of foresight and plain inability to advance sports here in Guyana, I felt it obligatory to take a few excerpts from the two well-written pieces to prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that the two gentlemen who’ve been in their respective positions for close to two decades, simply should not enjoy the support of stakeholders to remain in office due to their categorical failure to inspire a higher level of performance.
The attempt now to dupe the Nation further with more chatter about future plans and the ‘From now to Brazil’ arrangement where the call was made urging Associations to work together with the Government so that Guyana could endeavor to present a more formidable contingent at the 2016 Rio Games are all well choreographed recitals from the past.
Sport has now taken on a much bigger dimension, so much so that some of the most brilliant minds across the Caribbean in Sports, Education and Business meet with counterparts from other parts of the world to discuss all facets of athletes and sports development and its impact on economies.
So, even if it is interpreted as offending, the bare truth is that none of the above mentioned gentlemen, and including the Minister of Sport, has demonstrated the capacity to take us to the next level, so the need to introduce new blood with the relevant competence is a crucial one.
The advancement of sport is not only about meeting with associations to discuss the practical aspects, but also to converse about its impact on national development.
Just to emphasise the magnitude of the task of sports development, the Monday, September 3 edition of the Stabroek News had an article written by current President of the Jamaica Basketball Association Anjani Harris-Williams, (who according to the piece, spent some of his early years right here in Guyana), named ‘The Tools and Methods of Nation Building’ where he spoke comprehensively about the complexities of building a strong institution that is success oriented and which can positively impact on nation building, citing also, some of the required instruments to ensure that stated goals are achieved.
Over the years, the custodians of sport in Guyana have mostly focused on community interaction as witnessed with the staging of a glut of ‘Days of Interaction’ and this myopic mind-set has evidently stymied the construction of a well-defined policy that caters for national, regional and international participation with desired results.
Harris-Williams’ article in addition dealt with the type of personnel considered necessary to advance sport in all spheres and because Guyana – save for a few disciplines such as Powerlifting, Squash, Football to an extent and Rugby, even though it is felt that under the current leadership our best days are over – is suffering from a dearth of expertise, it is hard to see how the current set of administrators could trigger a sudden change in fortunes in the foreseeable future.
As was lamented earlier, change needs to be made; it is as simple as that, nothing else will suffice.
To go further, Dr. Tennyson Joseph, a political scientist at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, specializing in regional affairs, in an article in the Barbados Nation said, “The Caribbean would be missing a prime opportunity for national development if we were to merely celebrate the region’s performance at the 2012 Olympics and nothing more.
At a time when our region is grappling with the collapse of its post-colonial development model, it was as if providence was forcefully pointing to our intellectually bankrupt policymakers and tradition-bound private sector, that its future lies in the creative potential, athletic prowess and intellectual and artistic ability of its people.
History though, must be a very frustrated teacher, because despite the clarity of her instructions, the lessons are often ignored. Thus, in the middle of a financial crisis that marks the death of bananas, sugar and tourism, we continue to expend our energies in combating an Air Passenger Duty (APD), subsidizing foreign airlines, growing sugar cane and bananas, while we reduce spending on education, and deny the existence of a sports and culture industry.
In some countries, remittances constitute the largest source of foreign exchange. This is why the watery soup of the Caribbean private sector as the “engine of growth” always causes indigestion. A wide cultural and historical distance has always separated the private sector from the one true area in which we have a “comparative advantage” – the creativity of the people.
This did not begin with Usain Bolt and Rihanna. That the Caribbean private sector has never been able to see what lies beneath its very nose, is the strongest argument against our chosen development model.
Despite his sins, it took the American investor, Allen Stanford, to release the Caribbean’s commercial potential of the very un-American sport, cricket. Sadly, where the Caribbean business class remained blind to his example, the rising Indian Premier League (IPL) entrepreneurs were not so myopic.
What stopped the Caribbean private sector from seeing the potential of the Barbadian schoolgirl, Rihanna? What about Bob Marley? Did its history not condition it to ask: “Can anything good come out of Trenchtown?” What about the many other Caribbean youth with equal potential just wasting away, while we suck on sugar and slide on banana peel?
Did anyone hear the pain in Kirani James’ voice when he mourned the misfortune of more talented Grenadian youth?”
Once again, only a change in the present status quo could ignite the suppressed talent of our sportsmen and women.
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