Adding value to sports’ soft skills
Sports is primarily an expression of one’s physical and mental talents, which are overtly expressed in the performance.
Mostly through competitions, the bar is set and the criteria established.
It is mainly the technical and tactical abilities of sportsmen and women, which become the barometer for such performances.
So, sports is often assessed on those areas of expertise and the accomplishments which are the products of such talents.
But sports offers more than just that, and there are so many derivatives that emerge from simply being engaged in different sporting disciplines.
Therefore, there are several soft skills which manifest themselves through sports. Thus, social graces and etiquette come out in sports.
The shaking of hands at the end of matches in some disciplines such as cricket, football, netball, volleyball, tennis, table tennis, to name some, is evident and mandatory, irrespective of the outcomes of the matches.
So with sports being inherently rule bound, adherence to the various statutes and conditions, with non- compliance resulting in adverse consequences to those who infringe, automatically brings about some levels of discipline.
As such, players are cognistant that their conduct is under scrutiny, and invariably try to stay on the narrow path.
Too, players for the most part try to be on time for practice or be punctual for their various competitions; they value training as part and parcel for the advancement and betterment, as well as showing respect to match officials.
Adding to the list significantly, are those life skills of decision making, confidence, determination, team work, coping with success and similarly defeat and loyalty.
Even in the highly competitive sphere of professional sports, where they stakes are high as there are millions of dollars in prize money and lucrative endorsements on offer, sportsmen and women still have the time to show respect to their opponents, as well as sympathy and empathy.
The latter practices are being reinforced and given credence with the many mega stars in sports, turning as advocates against many social and political issues.
In St Vincent and the Grenadines, although many of the aforementioned soft skills are practised by our sportspersons, they are not highlighted as major ingredients in the development of the athletes.
How many of the sporting units here in this country, have insisted that these soft skills be part of the tool kits of the players?
Are these soft skills used as measuring gauges for the players progress? Are these skills taught during training sessions or are left to chance to be attained through other forms of socialisation?
But to be fair to some organisations, they often award trophies and sometimes cash awards to the most disciplined team in their competitions.
Taking the issue of soft skills to another level, some years ago, one company here made it a policy to employ several national sportsmen (namely cricketers) at its establishment.
Albeit then, the manager was an ardent cricketer, but he pursued the choice on the basis of the players having already acquiring several skills from their involvement in sports.
In principle, it was a good move and whilst there has not been a measuring stick to assess its effectiveness, such moves show the value of sports.
Whilst done many years ago, there has not been that conscious undertaking by employers to ensure that our young sportsmen and women are gainfully employed. This is outside the Youth Empowerment Service ( YES) and the Support for Education Training (SET) programmes, which provide employment opportunities for national sportsmen and women.
However, the YES and SET programmes are short term, namely one year and two years maximum.
The use of those embedded skills from sports, can do us the world of good in terms of promoting those practices that cater for national development and overall proper human living.
It would not hurt the many sporting units that make up St Vincent and the Grenadines’ stock, to add real value to these soft skills that sports provide.
They are called upon to promote them and use them as preparation tools for the greater good of the Vincentian society.