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Area of concern!


St. Vincent and the Grenadines may wake up one day and find that there are no sporting events taking place. Not because there is no one playing sports, but because there is no one to officiate.{{more}}

Almost unnoticed, there is now a dearth of officials to adjudicate the various sporting disciplines, whenever competitions are held.

As it is, the same faces are being seen or re-cycled as officials. No sport can safely say that it is well served in this field.

Cricket, for example, sees more or less the same set of umpires officiating in local competitions for the past ten to fifteen years.

Additionally, apart from the lack of umpires, Cricket is in dire need of competent scorers, as too often at Cricket matches there are discrepancies about the scores, as players in the main, willing as they are, may not have the expertise.

This comes about because many of the units which take part in national competitions are teams, not clubs, and do not have the structure necessary to afford a team scorer or even a manager. For those units which have supporting officials, well done.

With the Football leagues currently in full gear, that sport, too, is faced with the problem of getting the best officials to move around the country and serve.

The St. Vincent and the Grenadines Football Federation last year trained several referees, many of whom are active. however, with the proliferation of competitions, the number is still inadequate.

In place, though, at the National Club Football Championships is an assessment of the referees, but this is not often the case with the leagues, at the lower levels. Therefore, officials and players are left to develop bad habits at the league level. What we end up with are officials who often repeat the same mistakes because they are not properly assessed.

In the case of Netball, the local governing body holds regular training sessions for its cadre of officials, but this, too, sees the same faces, with few newcomers willing to take the plunge.

The shortage means that in some cases, there are referees, team managers and coaches who are still active players.

Although we understand this in the context of a scarcity of officials, it is not ideal if we want to take the sporting disciplines to the next level.

Officiating today has assumed greater significance, as one bad decision made by a referee, line official, or umpire can spell major losses in one’s income, especially at the professional level. Locally, bad decisions by officials can debar someone from making the next step to the national representative team and rob that person of regional or international exposure and ultimately, a decent living.

The reluctance of persons coming forward to officiate stems from the abuse that many who try to fill the void get from players and spectators. Often times, these services rendered are in the main for gratis, or for an official jersey, recompense for transportation to and from the venues, or a few drinks after each game.

Many, on the other hand, are just disinterested and prefer the comfort of sitting in the pavilions or on the sidelines and being critical of those who are willing to give of their effort and time.

Persons are seemingly not mindful of the economic benefits of becoming good officials.

In the case of Cricket umpiring and Football refereeing, which are today lucrative careers, many are still not heading in that direction.

Also, even at the level of management, match commissioners, Cricket Scorers, Football agents, among other off the field portfolios, are avenues that can be pursued to bring personal benefits, including remunerations.

Hence, despite the small pool of human resources to draw on, greater focus must be placed on the important aspect of adding, replenishing and luring, especially young people, into the sphere of officiating. That task is by no means easy, but must be tackled with some vigour.

So, too, is the removal of the “Mound” at the Sion Hill Playing Field.

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