Apr 16, 2014 Sports Comments Off on Sport development requires more that creation of facilities
By Rawle Welch
The recent boast of Government’s unrestricted support for Sport by the Director of Sport Neil Kumar must be taken as a pinch of salt and nothing more.
Writing in the Kaieteur News of Sunday, April 13 under the caption ‘Director of Sport challenges opposition to refute government’s sports contribution’, spoke of the “contribution and effort being made by the government in relation to sports.”
Kumar was responding to AFC’s MP Trevor Williams, who in his presentation in Parliament during the 2014 Budget debates questioned the leadership and vision of the Ministry of Culture, Youth & Sport, labeling the entity as visionless in relation to its policy for the advancement of Sport.
Kumar countered by stating that Williams failed to offer alternatives to the Ministry’s policies and went on to highlight the achievements of the Ministry over the past eight years which according to him saw “substantial investments and transformation in the sports sector.”
The Director mentioned the construction of a number of facilities including the National Stadium, Aquatic Centre, National Racquet Centre, Synthetic Track at Leonora and the installation of floodlights at the Albion Sports Complex as proof of Government’s vision for the development of sports.
However, the thought of developing sport is not restricted to the construction of facilities only, substantial investment in our athletes is equally important, but sadly the current state of affairs paints a different picture since the two components seem to be at opposite ends of the spectrum rather than working in tandem.
What could be a plausible reason (s) for the wretched performance of the national cricket team that had the best possible preparations heading into the regional tournament according to most media reports, while the continuous poor returns from our athletes in domestic, regional and international competitions, aren’t all incontrovertible attestations?
The creation of facilities is just one part of the development process, the need to support our athletes financially and this involves money to purchase nutrients for the body, money to attend competitions and other related support so that the focus is purely to train and compete nothing else.
The Ministry in the past had given support to some athletes and associations, but it has always been inadequate and this might be because of the absence of a proper Sports Policy, giving rise to speculation that most things are conducted in an ad hoc manner and there is no proper planning hence the assumption of unfairness.
Then there is the constant lament among associations, athletes and even the Olympic Association about the Ministry’s half-hearted commitment and in some instances total absence, so just for emphasis, the boast of facilities cannot hide the real facts.
The Director’s song of praises about the construction of facilities as being confirmation of the Government’s obligation to develop sport is croaky since several important factors usually involved in the procedure are missing.
The continual access to facilities, the reasonable cost to rent facilities, the facilitating of international coaches, new and advanced information and technology and of course access to modern equipment in addition to having them procured at affordable prices are all part of providing an enabling environment for development and consequent success.
After the enormous expenditure on facilities, we still do not have athletes who are world beaters not now nor in the foreseeable future unless there is a concerted effort to infuse more money in athletes’ direct development.
There is compelling evidence to support the belief that we possess some of the most naturally talented athletes in the Caribbean and many of them are extremely dedicated, but their efforts are not being complemented by similar investments by the Government so until the status quo changes we will continue to be labeled ‘also ran’.
Our national men’s hockey team is a prime example of our natural talent, they finished third in the recently concluded Pan Am Cup in Uruguay playing against players that enjoy massive support from their respective countries , but despite our lack thereof, they went and competed with distinction even though they failed to qualify for the World Cup in Germany next year.
Think about if we had the luxury of a proper facility and the opportunity to get in a few warm-up games against international teams.
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