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Accelerate the vehicle

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It is always proffered that sports is a vehicle for social change and national development, and truly it is.{{more}}

The stories are endless of what sports has done to some persons: it has saved them from a life of crime, enhanced their standing in society and helped them to earn a decent living from being a professional.

In the inner cities of the USA, the mere placement of play grounds and hard courts during the 1980’s served to add value to the lives of many young men who were deviant, which netted worthy sportsmen, and by extension reformed citizens.

To bring the matter back home, as a Sion Hillarian, when that community ruled Athletics and Football, was near the top in Cricket, and held its own on the national sphere in Table Tennis, Netball and Bodybuilding during the 1980’s and 1990’s, the stigma of Sion Hill, being an area where only bad was thought of, was gradually erased.

At that time, its vibrant sports club was the model of all sporting organisations, the community got a moral facelift, and the people of Sion Hill walked the streets of St. Vincent and the Grenadines with their chests held high, gained plaudits and well deserved bragging rights.

With the misgivings of the community diminished, that has spilled off to present day, such that the Sion Hill Euphonium Steel Orchestra is being hounded by many from all walks of life, that parents feel free to have their children enrolled in the band’s annual programme and be part of the band’s operations.

Similar happenings emanated from Rose Place, also during the 1960’s to the 1980’s, when Football outfits such as Roseans, High Ball, Stingers, and before them, the famed Notre Dames, and others, used sports as a vehicle to excavate themselves from the perceptions of nothing good can come from the community.

Such was the degradation of the Rose Place and Paul’s Avenue areas; more so, Paul’s Avenue was once referred to as the “Slum”.

Today, we are also seeing what the Avenues Football team is doing to create a different image to Paul’s Avenue.

That Football outfit is once again the dominant team in this year’s Premier Division of the National Lotteries Authority National Club Championships, and is on course for a repeat of the title which they won last year.

Like Sion Hill, Paul’s Avenue is the beneficiary of such transformation, as the Avenues Dancers is the most popular dance troupe around today, especially among pre teens, drawing membership from a wide cross section and strata of the Vincentian society, with no inhibitions of being associated with that community.

Similarly, with the colour and socio- economic barriers partially removed from Tennis, the efforts of Grassroot Tennis Club must not go unnoticed in its quest to eliminate the partitions totally, by bringing the sport to the under privileged from the sub urban sections free of cost.

With the many recipes established, and with reasonable success already attained, using such models and experiences should not be a problem for others to replicate, and crank up and accelerate the vehicle of sports.

Therefore, the task is for community leaders to seriously look at the direction in which the youths are headed and once again take ownership of locale and provide guidance and pastoral care for the vulnerable ones.

The notion that volunteerism is a thing of the past should not linger in the minds of those with some administrative capabilities, instead work towards keeping hope alive among the youths.

Additionally, with well crafted government policies, along with the efforts of the various community organisations, the hemorrhage of social stability could be immensely stemmed.

It may be no co-incidence that the configuration of the Ministry of National Mobilisation also has the portfolios of Social Development, Youth and Sports, as they all impact and interlock each other.

Therefore, with sports an integral part of the social development, thus ensuring its machinery is well oiled and that the wheels are turning rapidly, could be part of the panacea of issues which confront our youth and adult population daily.

The acceleration pedal should be pushed, too, as this column continues its call for the complete removal of the Mound at the Sion Hill Playing Field.