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Just by dint of hard work


THE STRUGGLE IS real for Vincentian sportsmen and women across all disciplines who seek to maintain a level of performance that will keep them in the limelight at the regional level.

Yes, they can hold their own locally and can match their opponents at the sub-regional arena, but when extended to the wider Caribbean, our best exponents of sports have been found deficient of what is required.

This situation has cut across all disciplines whether be it individual or team sports, with several examples to strengthen the observations.

Our cricketers will excel at the local level, make the SVG team. They would then proceed to the Windward Islands team and make the progression to the West Indies.

However, over the years, Vincentian cricketers stay on the regional team, being required to compete for spots against fellow West Indians, and at the same time perform at the international level; they have fallen short with their consistency.

Whilst one may say in some instances that insularity has played a part in some instances, this is not the case with recent selectees, as the statistics were not doctored.

Similarly, our footballers would light the domestic competitions, earn themselves semi-professional or full professional contracts overseas (Barbados and Antigua and Barbuda, not included), but invariably are not fixtures with the club to which sought their talents.

Save and except the likes of Ezra Hendrickson in Major League Soccer (MLS) , Wesley Charles ( Republic of Ireland League) and Cornelius Huggins and Marlon James in the Malaysian Football League, few have Vincentians been able to maintain professional football contracts for an extended period.

Likewise, athletes would show much potential here, and cannot make the transition from being a local hero, to at least a
regional force.

So, often times, we are called upon to celebrate the players or teams’ successes, and thereafter have to equally defend their performance, when they fall short of the mark.

Many factors contribute to St Vincent and the Grenadines’ position in sports, relative to our regional neighbours.

Among some of the plausible reasons are the lack of sporting infrastructure, finance and the small pool of persons to choose from.

Also critical, is the manner in which sports is viewed; merely as a form of recreation and not an avenue for economic development via our human resources.

But, to what extent does the way Vincentians are socialized, have a negative impact on sports?

It is embedded in the Vincentians’ sporting psyche, to be laid back and let things unfold, rather than exhibit that tenacity and hunger to achieve.

Unfortunately, most of our sportsmen, sportswomen and administrators, namely coaches, are not advocates of the stardom status. Contentment thus abounds with being local heroes.

This type of thinking can be reversed, if our thinking is reclassified to include, just a dint of hard work.

Hence, we can use a perfect example in sports, to the good.

In the period when our own Pamenos Ballantyne ruled the roads of the Caribbean for about a decade, he was the epitome of hard work.

At that time, Ballantyne trained relentlessly to maintain the high levels of performance that distinguished him as the Caribbean’s best long distance runner at the time.

Mirroring Ballantyne, basketballers – Sophia Young and Sancho Lyttle, who played in the USA’s WNBA and Adonal Foyle, in the NBA.

Young and Lyttle, two home grown netballers, when given opportunities to the head to the USA, were prepared to knuckle down and make a living for themselves and family, and a name for St Vincent and the Grenadines.

In the case of Foyle, it was less of talent, but more of dedication and commitment, that saw him playing in the NBA for more than a decade.

Apart from that, Foyle has also gained educational achievements, which he can fall back on, now that his playing career has ended.

Not every Vincentian sportsman would be able to attain, as the basketball trio, but importantly, or as is the case with the others, paying attention to what got them to their achievements, is most important.

It is the challenge too for all local coaches and sports administrators to put in the hard work, and be the example for their charges to emulate.

Hopefully, when this is done, the other support systems would come as a matter of course, but there must be evidence of that input.