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If only, eh?

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The two semi finals in Europe’s Champions League last week brought into focus how much Vincentians love Football.

The fact that there is ready access to the cable channels has heightened such interest. And, SVG TV as it has done before brought the matches live as a public service.{{more}}

This soaring passion for the Champions League saw large gatherings at the CD Veira gallery in Kingstown, as many were unable to get home to view the matches. The gatherings were akin to what obtained when the West Indies Cricket team was in its hey day; then Cricket was king, and held pride of place.

Leading up to last week’s semis, everywhere, the matches were the talk of the town. Such was the interest that some are fast becoming fanatical.

One might have thought at one point that one was somewhere in Spain or England, as many chose to wear replicas of the clubs they support. One vehicle last Wednesday was draped with a Barcelona flag.

The local Barcelona fans were seen proudly sporting their replicas on Thursday, after the club’s progress to the Finals at the expense of English Club Chelsea.

As with our party politics here, most supporters of the Spanish La Liga are in the main divided down the middle between Real Madrid and Barcelona. Such is that support that a mock burial was performed on Real Madrid at Rose Place (Bottom Town), after Barcelona inflicted a 6-2 drubbing on them two Saturdays ago.

While this type of support and fervour for Sports is welcomed, if only our locals can throw that sort of energy behind local representative teams, what a difference we would see in their performances!

But it is not so. No one seems to want to be associated with any thing local.

Our local footballers still play to empty stands, except for the once-every-four-years sojourn at the World Cup Qualifiers.

Similarly, other sports such as Netball and Cricket only see the faces of the die-hards at their matches. Yes, our sports do not offer much attraction, as there is a serious down turn in attitude and commitment.

Hence, the sport -loving public prefer to sit in the comfort of their living rooms and absorb what the international media has to offer.

But if only our local footballers would realise that what unfolds before their eyes on the television screen is the end product of years of training, repetition and discipline to their craft.

But if only the local supporters of the European clubs recognise that the full stadia represent years of club membership, strong corporate backing and top level administrative efforts.

The power and influence of the mass media have had such a hypnotic effect that there are persons here who know almost every player’s profile in the Spanish, Italian and English Premier Leagues.

Those players are revered and idolized.

So who then should we blame for this? Up front, Vincentians have an insatiable appetite for things foreign.

But if fed with the right local sustenance, persons surely can get to accept that there is talent and feast on the passion, which will ultimately bring that sort of respect and following to the respective sports.

Our authorities, likewise, have failed to put the necessary mechanisms in place so that Sports and its derivatives can augment national development. They have not led the way either in small measures, to ensure that our athletes are venerated.

While we have no world champions, some have made this country proud, yet our recognition of them has been superficial and only for nine days. It surely will not hurt to have a billboard of Sophia Young at the entrance to the Central Leeward town of Layou.

Ezra Hendrickson, a former national Football Captain, is currently the Assistant Coach of MSL club Seattle Sounders. He also hails from Layou. A similar form of recognition can be put in place.

As an advocate of local sportsmen and women, I have begun in my own way to give them some personal prominence.

In fact, the screen saver on my Personal Computer bears a photo of Vincy Heat Captain Marlon “Tusty” James.

Other ways of putting the nation’s sportsmen and women in the national limelight can and must be found, but there must also be reciprocity on the part of the athletes, to be deserving of such honours.

But no honour is in store for those who erected the “Mound” at the Sion Hill Playing Field.

Email: kingroache@yahoo.com

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