By Sean Devers
Veteran International broadcaster and Sports Administrator Guyanese Joseph ‘Reds’ Perriera is concerned with the direction that spo
rts in the Caribbean is going and feels weak Club structures is affecting the development of Sports.
“If you have strong Clubs, you will have strong Associations and those Associations make up the Olympic Committee in the Caribbean, I am not talking only about Guyana,” noted Reds, who now lives in St Lucia.
Reds feels if Associations are stronger then the Olympic committee will be more vibrant.
He said, “If you look at the club structure, it’s getting weaker, there are more teams where you are the captain and I am the vice-captain, especially in rural areas.
There are no non playing executives to look at fund raising, club life, discipline, trying to find equipment and ensuring that you develop a support base, community base.
There are very few vibrant clubs these days and weak clubs can’t make an impact. Weak Clubs will produce weak Associations which will mean that funds will not be properly used. You may get sponsorship but if you don’t provide good media releases, that sponsorship will soon end.
If your club is doing things in a constructive way, that’s the only way the sponsorship will continue. So a club needs to be active, do things in their community, self-development, see if they can get jobs for people,” added Reds, who did commentary on 145 Test matches between 1971 and 2005.
According to Reds, many places in the Caribbean have less than 50 percent functioning Associations which are really disappointing. Some Associations are strong and very active and some you don’t know what’s going on.
“Some of the minor sports are easy to run; take Volleyball, this should be one of the most played sports in the Caribbean. You only need a 60 x 30 feet of grass space and some countries don’t have any Volleyball being played.
Some Sports Associations are very active but in the main many are weak and not enough is begin done to help them grow. I believe the fault lies with the Association,” continued the former Advisor to the Sports Minister in the Forbes Burnham Government.
“If you go to register a Club, detailed information on the club should be requested; who are your non playing executives, so that they can see there is a structure that they will eventually benefit from volunteers who can provide leadership and become members of the Olympic Committee or the National Association. It’s a positive.
If for example, I am the President of the Basketball Association and it is May, 2020 and there is no activity, the Olympic Association should call me in and say it’s May but we have not seen anything being done since the start of the year,” Reds said.
He says that’s not interfering. “They should ask. You said you would docertain things and we don’t see anything being done, so what is the problem, can we help?
Everyone is responsible, the Ministry of Sports also has to be conscious of the strength of the Associations because they have facilities to be used by clubs or National Athletes which is underused, grass is growing, the basketball Court is empty. The Sports Ministry has got to be conscious…. not interfering.”
The Pomeroon born Reds said, “If tomorrow I am elected President of an Association, the first thing I would need to do is to go to a Bank and inquire about month to month financial reports. I have to end up with a financial statement and that is a bug bear. Many clubs don’t have financial statements and cannot hold their AGM because the financial statements are not ready and I could go on and on.”
He added, “When you look at a Political Party, a Church, a Trade union… their strength is in themselves, their outreach group. Not a fancy building in the Capitol City and you say you are strong. The strength is what’s happening at the grass roots level.
The other thing I feel is when national teams travel they should promote their countries. If you go to the CAC Games you should be given brochures by the tourism Ministry, most of the countries don’t do this. Only Jamaica has a link with the sport and promotion of their Country.
A case in point is when Guyana goes to America to compete I hope they are given at least 1000 brochures to share out.
Sports Tourism is something I am trying to let the Tourism Ministry understand the importance of this aspect of Tourism in Guyana and the benefits that can be deprived from it.”
Reds feels the business community must not just try to sell more products through sponsorship but also help to lift standards.
“When I was president of the Basketball Association, a Bank adopted Basketball they paid all of our fees to the World Body, they gave us money to run the Association. So there are times when everybody does not have go with the big sports like Cricket, Football, Boxing but support the small Sports, it’s about getting the right mix,”said the 79-year-old.
Red said, “It would be good if the Government could encourage the Business Community to Sports Development by giving them more tax relief for a genuine contribution to a National Association and I think that would encourage more Companies to provide more money if they know they will get a tax break.”
The training of officials is also important he noted, too often there too few officials improving their qualifications.
But there are some grass roots Coaches, especially in Boxing and Football, who might not be academically inclined to write a level one or level two Coaching exam.
You could create a programme where he or she can get some kind of qualification that they can go to a school or a Community Centre and say I would like to Coach and have done this programme.
It must not be totally ignoring those who might not have what it takes to write the exams but knows the practical work. It’s better to have trained Coaches from grass roots level right up to the top.
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