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Time to hold your own

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The past Independence weekend once again brought into sharp focus the need for us to think seriously of developing major sporting events with regional and international flavour.{{more}}

For too long, this country has not been making any decisive efforts to ensure that special events are organized and patented so that we can truly call them ours.

Over the years, we have had to wait until the West Indies Cricket Board rationed us with a One Day International Cricket match.

Or whenever our local associations get their turn to host a regional tournament, at times, these are few and far between.

As it is, they are just the crumbs that we are asked to feed on.

The hosting of the Elite Caribbean Cycling Championships showed the untapped potential all round that St. Vincent and the Grenadines possesses.

Present here were several of the big wigs of the sport, in addition to the cyclists, who had support teams and well wishers.

What more publicity and up end marketing can we ask for?

Also, over the Independence anniversary weekend, we saw, albeit now customary, the descending of regional bikers on these shores.

Even though they were a nuisance at times with their excessive noise, unnecessary showboating and histrionics, their contribution to the economy is very much welcomed.

In addition, two weeks ago, an ITF Junior Tennis Championship was staged here. This is fast becoming an annual affair.

The input of the Customs Sports Club , the commercial banks, the CWSA, Inland Revenue, among other government statutory bodies, which from time to time host their regional counterparts at Easter, is immeasurable.

I need not expand on who gets a share of the pie, as there is undoubtedly some economic spin offs.

But those who have the “know how” and the authority seemingly do not count these as important. Whilst people do not come here in droves, a satisfied few is great gain.

We cannot be contented with handing out some promotional materials to the teams and individuals who come to these events, but we need to try to turn them into repeat visitors.

Every year, local netball teams travel to St. Lucia for their Helen of the West tournament.

But it is not all about Netball, but about Tourism, as the St. Lucia Tourism authorities play a role in the Tournament, giving it governmental blessings.

Unfortunately, we may be hard pressed to host such a tournament, as teams are reluctant to play on our hard concrete surfaces.

A multi sport indoor facility is the answer.

So, this has left us with no event that is fixtured on the sporting calendar, when the focus of attention for a few days is on St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

On the contrary, we look to other regional territories each year anxiously to participate in theirs.

There is the Barbados Football Masters Tournament, which teams here have prioritised as their yearly regional tour.

Time is surely running out on us to get on board and get in line.

With no one at the top of decision making willing to take the lead, the onus is on, the respective national associations or some enterprising groups of persons to fashion some sporting event(s), properly planned, marketed and executed.

But this cannot be done in a vacuum, as there must be some level of government involvement.

Therefore, the suggestions are to have one major sporting event, once every quarter, with the Tourism aspect, high on the list of objectives.

Maybe Team Athletics SVG can look seriously at a weekend of road racing, with attractive prizes, to woo top athletes from the region to come here to compete.

Activities in the same vein as the annual Run Barbados Series are held every November.

With the planned grand celebration of the pearl anniversary of Independence in 2009, it could be an opportune time to launch such a race, then run with it as an annual event.

In addition, with significant improvements done to the Arnos Vale Playing Field, a mini Cricket tournament could be staged, along the lines of the Grenada Masters, which attract teams from England, mainly for sports, but with Tourism as a beneficiary.

It is not too late for us to conjure up some plan, as we probably are the only ones in the region who have no sporting event to call ours.

Time is also running out on that obstruction called the “Mound” at the Sion Hill Playing Field.