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Hit by SARS


A serious bout of SARS has hit the local sporting community. First it was endemic, but of late it is fast becoming an epidemic.

The symptoms of this malady are evident in almost every sport, every national association.{{more}} The Ministry of Sports, other support government institutions and sponsors all seem to have caught the infection.

The result is continuous neglect, disrespect and a relegation of sports to a position of almost last in terms of its role as a development tool of this nation’s most valuable resource – its people.

Not even the lip service that often soothes the hearts is being heard, to at least provide comfort to the aches.

When last have we produced any athlete, (used here generally) of note? The reason lies in the self inflicted infirmity caused by poor feeding of the minds with the right ideas to nourish sports, here in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

And, we have hit rock bottom.

The annual inter schools’ athletics meet, the premier athletics event for our secondary school students, has been left to evolve into a fashion parade, a must on the schools sporting calendar, but with no direction. We are too happy to use the pockets of misconduct by some students, like what took place last week Tuesday at the Arnos Vale Playing Field, as an excuse for the lack of prominence given to this event.

But there is no excuse when there is gross incompetence by those who take up the mantle of staging such events.

Why did we boast so much of the legacy of the hundreds of volunteers who were trained for cricket world cup last year? Aren’t they versed in events management? What is their usefulness one year after receiving such training?

Other functions and events of government are given detailed planning and execution. However, the same cannot be said when it comes to the schools’ sporting events, which in themselves are nationalistic in nature. Some of the sophistications normally prevalent at elections can be afforded to the youngsters at these events.

Similarly, we have invested millions of hard earned tax payers money into developing the Arnos Vale Playing Field, Stubbs and Sion Hill, yet they have become large sand banks rather than playing fields.

It may be the time for the highest government official in the land to have his hand put in this issue, otherwise we may just be singing a different tune down the road. Maybe “Five wasted years”, or “Fifty-plus million dollars gone to waste,” will be the appropriate hook lines.

Didn’t someone know that sand based fields need more irrigation than the other types? Didn’t they know that certain contingency measures must be in train during the dry spell like what is currently taking place? On whose advice was the decision taken to go for a sand places at the three venues?.

The result is “Closed for restorative work”.

I am still wondering if our Sports Minister is aware of what is happening at these fields. Is anyone apprising him of the developments?

The Minister appears to have tapered off in the last year or so when it comes to his audible voice on matters of sports.

One would have thought for a person with youth on his side and a former athlete of worthy mention and one who generally showed an interest in sports in his younger days that his fervour would have infected and given hope to our young athletes and young people in general.

In this area, Mr. Minister, you are falling short badly.

It was heartening to see Bahamas’ Minister of Sports suit up and accompany his country’s Junior Carifta team to St. Kitts/ Nevis last weekend. What a lovely touch that must have been to those youngsters.

The total opposite occurred last Wednesday, as no one from the executive of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Cricket Association saw it necessary to be at the airport to see the Under-19 team off to Grenada.

This is becoming too regular an occurrence among several national associations.

Yes, St. Vincent and the Grenadines has been hit by SARS – a Serious Allergic Reaction to Sports.

Treatment of this epidemic is needed with great urgency.

Sports and its direct benefits must be re-emphasised and sports must be put as a centrality towards nation building.

From even the pre school level, Physical Education and Sports must be taught as a subject rather than a past time.

And, with consultations the order of the day, a national debate on Sports can be a diagnostic route. But moreso, facilities at least which are compatible with others within the region are paramount, will assist in the recovery.

This SARS has also hit the Sion Hill Playing Field with the erection of the “Mound”.