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Sleeping on the job in sports


St Vincent and the Grenadines seems to be in a prolonged period of slumber when it comes to positioning itself as a host country for various tournaments, substantive international cricket matches, among others.{{more}}

We are slowly, but surely, putting ourselves out of the competitive frame when it comes to the hosting of these events.

Handouts and apportioning matches on a rotating basis are fast becoming historical happenings, as the landscape is forever changing, while we remain in inertia.

In the area of cricket, authorities here are apparently contented with the lesser status teams, such as Bangladesh and Zimbabwe, and believe we have achieved.

We must be mindful that, in the main, St Vincent and the Grenadines gets the crumbs, the leavings; fixtures which no one else wants, are dumped on us.

Therefore, when the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) has to allow for a “buy one get one free” ticketing system to get people into the Arnos Vale for the test match next week, it says a lot.

Yes, test cricket is not appealing, likewise the West Indies is no longer the eye-catching, venerated team of the 1980s and ‘90s.

Neither is Bangladesh a crowd puller and a top ranked team, which compounds the situation of getting a decent crowd in.

But relegation to such position in the pecking order is our undoing.

How much is done to market Arnos Vale Playing Field, beyond the fact that it is a named facility which can host regional and international matches, namely football, cricket and rugby?

Why then are other territories able to attract county teams to have their pre-season camps in their location?

Lifting our game is paramount, likewise the amenities at the main Arnos Vale arena.

So then, should we complain when several years ago, recommendations were made for the installation of a replay screen at the main Arnos Vale venue? This has gone on deaf ears.

Whilst we are sleeping on the job, the other regional host territories are burning the midnight oil and ensuring that the pie is eaten by them as soon as it comes out of the oven.

These territories take a visitor experience approach to hosting, hence the various tourism authorities play integral roles in making this a reality.

We have seen that according to studies done by the University of the West Indies, which highlighted the economic impact of the inaugural hosting of the Caribbean Premier League in 2013, the direct revenues by the hosts were Guyana – $4 million, St Lucia – $7.3 million, Antigua and Barbuda – $7.4 million, Barbados – $9 million, Jamaica – $10.7 million and Trinidad and Tobago – $12.9 million.

This year we saw St Kitts and Nevis making the bold step in bidding for the last leg of the CPL.

Reports are that the federation was abuzz, as there was heavy air traffic in and hotels and guest houses were up to their near capacity occupancy.

They went out of the way to have the likes of Rick Ross, Piers Morgan among others descend on the federation.

It is expected when the numbers are crunched they would have netted a tidy economic spin-off.

Added value also came when the federation was advertised for the world to see.

Such advertisement and promotion are priceless in advancing as a tourist destination.

Are we here in St Vincent and the Grenadines going to see a change in attitude, as those with the strings wake up to the fact that they are not living in a dream world?

Are we willing to put in the needed infrastructure at Arnos Vale to head on to the battlefield with the other territories?

Do we have the political will to do like Grenada, who reportedly shelled out US$500,000 to host the official opening and first round match-ups, or bold like St Kitts and Nevis, which reports say forked out US $5 million to secure the semi-finals and finals?

Or are they resigned to the goat matches which come this way?

But why should anyone burst a vein, when the policymakers here, in general, see sports as recreation and not as part of economic growth and development?