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School Sports in ‘Rocking Chair Mode’

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The 2005 reconfiguration of the ministerial portfolios saw Sports and Youth Affairs aligned with Tourism.

The reasoning behind this move was to add impetus to government’s thrust towards the concept of Sports Tourism. The former, previously linked to Education meant a greater need for a sense of collaboration between the two. Sadly, the reversal has been the outcome.{{more}}

Instead what we have ended up with are sections on the pathway of “to each his own”.

On one hand, there are the sports managers in the Ministry of Education, the other, the officers in the Department of Sports and Physical Education and the new entity, the Physical Education and Sports Teachers Association (PESTA).

Do we need all these organisations to administer sports and physical education at our educational institutions, in a two by two nation of ours? Can they coexist or is it time for streamlining?

Undoubtedly the human resources are there. The Ministry of Education possesses the persons with the certification, while the Ministry of Sports has those with the technical knowledge and some certified coaches in some disciplines.

It is evident from my assessment that there is a personality clash among all concerned, with personal agendas spilling over into the administration. The result is the sub-standard efforts at organising meaningful activities among our school population.

The “pound of flesh” mentality has taken over, with each fraction laying blame on the other for the shortcomings. While these entities and departments try to take control the declining standards of our young athletes continue to careen down hill with break neck speed.

The lack of vision, purpose and clear objectives are obscured in the staging of the annual events.

The Ministry of Education is consumed with ensuring that a calendar of events comes off each academic year.

The alleged comments made by one senior Ministry of Education official that Physical Education is a subject of “irrelevance” sums up the lack of understanding of these personnel.

Hence the reason there is no visible sign that our athletes are developing. Sports are seen by our nation’s youth as just formalities especially at school, and with the absence of a strong club base, most drift away from their respective sports after they have completed their stay at the secondary or tertiary levels.

There is no structured approach to add value to these athletes. They go around like headless chickens having openings and closing ceremonies, distributing trophies and submitting annual reports, case close, we have done our part.

It is the sheer God given talents of our young sportsmen and women, the tenacity of some of the sports teachers and coaches in the schools that we are able to say that we have this or that person performing creditably.

If it were not the input of some national bodies’ training programmes, these ministries will have nothing to feast on.

There are signs of some efforts made by the Department of Sports and Physical Education. Its programme for senior citizens at the Golden Aged Centres along with the guidance from the Nutrition Unit on health related issues and the exercise in the park activity are steps in the right direction.

But their efforts must be redoubled and proper policies put in place to ensure continuity.

Physical health and wellness is wholesome and propels a nation into increased productivity. How many of us understand that?

Critically too, is the lack of co-ordination at times with the National Sports Council, the keeper of most sporting facilities in the state. With foresight and proper planning lacking, leaves the NOC to operate autonomously. But again who is to be blamed for the malaise?

Those responsible must act decisively at this juncture as for many years we have been seated comfortably in our “ Rocking chair phenomenon” -making movements but going nowhere.

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