Posted on

Hear the cry, oh coaches!


The cry is loud for coaches to come forward to the aid of several sporting disciplines here, but they are not paying mind to the wailing.

On bended knees, the pleas have been like choruses of despair, for those persons with the know how to assist with the training, mentoring and other support for our young athletes.{{more}}

And, it is not for want for those with the certification, but a general disregard for their status, lack of commitment and their rhetoric often hyped in emotions at occasions of glitter.

Course after course has been convened, targetting almost every stratum of the flow chart of national associations, but more so directed at the aspect of coaching.

But most have come to nothing, as many attend the sessions, just to get away from the classroom, their work places or enhance their resume.

Many become missing in action, but with their certificates and other hand outs wearing them down, while those in need of their services cry out for help.

So the lack of response from local basketball coaches to the current Olympic Solidarity Course being conducted by American Nelson Isley sums up the situation. The difference in this instance, though, is that the coaches are not attending the sessions to improve their knowledge.

This puts everything into a tail spin, as the local Basketball Federation could find itself between a rock and a hard place, as coaches are pivotal to any sport’s progress and continuity.

A similar situation is facing Team Athletics SVG, despite its continuous efforts to retool its coaches. I remember quite vividly in December 2005, several coaches were certified, and there, they promised much, but from my observation, have delivered little.

It is the same old faces who are still toiling in the vineyard, trying to keep the sport literally and figuratively on track.

What is keeping some sports afloat is the stickability of a committed few, who have the needs of their athletes at heart, and have recognized the importance of their input.

Whilst these two disciplines have openly exposed their issues, others are griping silently.

Many team/clubs participate in national competitions with anyone to even act in the capacity of a coach.

To show how much coaching forms part of development, one just has to take a leaf from the manual of Ian Sardine, whose work rate and production of young footballers are unmatched.

While Sardine does not possess a library of coaching certificates nor pages of courses that he has attended, it is his sheer dedication and passion for football that have been the ingredients for his success rate. Maybe taking just a few leaves out of his book can be the start of the changes in attitude of those with the name “coach” tagged on to them.

Sadly, these occurrences form part of the malaise that is rocking Vincentian sports.

Interestingly, tennis, once considered an elite sport, and emerging into a discipline with a grass root flavour and interest, does not suffer from lack of coaches. Most tennis players come through the various Tennis Schools, which, of course, has a cost attached to it.

Like coaches, the unavailability of match officials is also taking its toll and, in some cases, stalling many. Administrators, referees, umpires, sports medicine personnel have all had their share of training, but many cannot say that they have adequately given back enough to the sporting community.

Yes, volunteerism has become a curse word today, but even in cases where officials and coaches have been offered a stipend as recompense for their time and output, the response has been equally abysmal.

Sadly, these come at a time when this country is grappling with crime, as searches are being made for alternatives to channel the pent frustrations of our youth population.

The product of this disconnect between coaches and officials on one hand and athletes on the other is a fall off in participation. And, those athletes who sometimes are obligated so to do, are seasonal in their involvement.

But we should not throw our hands in the air and think that all is lost. Certainly not! Despite the dark days that have descended, hope should still linger in the minds of those who head national associations.

Readjusting coaching programmes that cut some of the rigidity may be one of the avenues to rekindle interest and participation all round.

A renaissance of some sort must come soon. A gold medal at a major championship by one of our athletes or a major title by a national team can be the turning point. But the coaches and administrators must first value their work and positions.

Also not hearing the cry of this column are those who erected the Mound at the Sion Hill Playing Field.