Not just a simple undertaking
Time after time, there has been calls for some attention be paid to national sports people, (past and present), who have fallen on hard times, be it financially or as a consequence of some unforeseen circumstances, namely illness.
Unfortunately, when the misfortune befall some of these sportsmen and women, the common cry is for the government to step in to assist. This recommendation is often accompanied by the suggestions of taking from one area of expenditure and providing for those persons who are the victims of circumstances.
Invariably, it is the benevolence and concern of citizens or some assistance from government, either direct of through state agencies, that come to the rescue of the victims. Also, some national associations would chip in and provide some help.
Too, some resort to Gofundme platforms as an avenue to source financial support. But such undertakings are not sustained and are normally one-off and more so, limited.
We have to face it that most of our sportspersons are amateurs and are at the lower end of the economic ladder.
Therefore, they would not have the luxury of health insurance policies nor are from families who have it made.
When bundled, the only saving grace is to solicit support from others.
The cause of all this, is that there is no national welfare structure of funding to assist such persons.
So what happens is that there is an adhoc approach whenever some national representative is seeking help. But, whilst there has been a call for a welfare fund to be set up here, one must be mindful of St Vincent and the Grenadines’ economic standing.
The realities are clear, that St Vincent and the Grenadines does not possess a limitless amount of financial resources to splurge on such undertakings. And, if such is done, it will come at the expense of some other sector. Additionally, compensation for national sports people during or after their playing and productive years, is not fixed in the national agenda.
Such debilitating circumstances give rise to many questions which must be answered before any structures can be put in place.
Readily and significantly, one would ask, who should take the lead in the process. Should the task of establishing such a fund be the order of central government? Should there be a special fund set up by government, similar to the Public Assistance Programme?
More so, should such a programme be developed, what would be the criteria for persons eligible to access funding or services? Critically to be placed in the scheme of things, would be what circumstances should be categorised as dire needs?
These inquiries are pertinent against the backdrop that hundreds of persons have represented St Vincent and the Grenadines at various sporting disciplines.
But during all this mulling and the pros and cons of introducing such a national programme, we have a starter which can be used as the springboard for future considerations.
One will recall back in 2016, we saw Coreas Hazells Inc. making the kind a gesture of providing three former national representatives, in Stanley Hinds (football and netball) , Guy Lowe (football ) and Genita Lewis (track and field) with an annual supply of a $1000 of health supplements and prescription drugs for the rest of their lives. This was in addition to a one-off $2500 in supplies of items then from the various divisions of Coreas Hazells.
This noble gesture by that business entity has paved the way for others to follow suit. However, with not a vibrant sports culture here, there has not been any known similar recognition for persons who have contributed to the Vincentian sporting history.
Hopefully, as we await a possible national welfare funding or the provision of services for our sports people who are faced with challenges, our policy-makers can encourage those businesses with a social conscience to provide care packages and other support for sportsmen and women in their hours of need.