This weekend culminates another occasion of our national independence celebrations.
Whilst the traditions of patriotism and nationalism, as well as a period of frolicking are the focal areas, the involvement of sports have been morphed into the annual events.
A national sports festival once undertaken by national sports associations, have faded out, leaving individuals to use the period to promote some sporting activities.
Slowly, but surely, there is some semblance of reality, that St Vincent and the Grenadines could be on to something big sporting wise, during the independence celebrations.
Not only there is a hive of sporting activity at this time of year, but there is an emergence of a possible sports–tourism product.
Therefore, when the New York Masters cricket team, which is made up of Vincentians living in New York, began some years ago, to embark on their annual tour to St Vincent and the Grenadines at during our independence, it sparked an idea. The birth of an annual masters’ 20/20 international competition has taken place.
Started last year with four teams from outside St Vincent and the Grenadines, namely from Trinidad and Tobago, inclusive of the New York Masters, the initial competition was a major success.
This success did not stay with the administration of the matches, but with the enjoyment off the field, thus accruing good advertisement for St Vincent and the Grenadines’ hospitality.
It was no surprise that there was an increased in foreign teams in this year’s edition, spawning an economic spin-off which our country should embrace totally.
And, indications are that teams are in the waiting list for next year’s competition.
Added, right on cue, this year, we have also seen the introduction of the SVG Tennis Cup, which intent is to woe international tennis players here for the tournament.
Whatever is the outcome of this inaugural effort by all concerned, the best is expected, as we surely are called upon as a matter of civic responsibility, to make it work.
These planned independence sporting events, add to the already staple activity at the annual motorsports extravaganza.
With some better administrative structure and planning, the latter, whilst an economic contributor during the period, can be more beneficial to our coffers.
Maximising the potentials of these sporting activities should be pursued by all stakeholders, as St Vincent and the Grenadines has to position itself for hosting activities, where we can “Hold Our Own”.
Therefore, with the current set up being done by separate entities, some synergies have to be developed to capitalise on the opportunities that are in the offing.
Our independence celebrations can also be promoted as a period of homecoming for Vincentians, as once there is something to look forward to, persons who reside abroad will make good of another opportunity to return home.
This would mean that the tourism authorities would have another festival to promote, outside the Carnival, Christmas and Easter festivities.
And now that the Everything Expo is becoming an annual exercise, then the more reason for a concerted national effort.
We have to start to position ourselves for 2019, as this marks the 40th anniversary of independence, surely a milestone to be hyped and advanced.
A big sporting independence package should be the way to go for the 2019 celebrations.
With cricket, motorsports and tennis on the agenda, other national sporting associations should push to have a regional/international event to be part of next year’s independence celebrations.
In saying so, spreading our wings must be well calculated, and we should avoid being piggy-backed on, as due diligence must be key when engaging outside entities/partners.
Also, we have to continue to build and better those sporting activities which are in train, and guard against biting off more than we can chew.
As we envisage greater successes in future independence sporting events, we have to acknowledge though, that in order to reach the level of acceptability and have the international appeal others have achieved, we have to be prepared to put in the hard work.
On the checklist must be astute planning and execution, in making ours the most anticipated and the best there is.
It also cannot be a selected committee of persons, but the engagement of corporate partnerships established with targeted entities, such as hotels and beverage producers, who are direct beneficiaries from such sporting ventures.
Happy Independence St Vincent and the Grenadines!