Hopefully no rhetoric
The pronouncement made last Saturday at the Independence parade at the Victoria Park, by this country’s Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, of a national sports programme fashioned with the main intent to put a dent on social deviance, is welcomed.
By so doing, Gonsalves, as head of government, has verbally entered into a social contract with the youths of St Vincent and the Grenadines, and by extension, the entire populace.
For some time now, there has been much clamouring for a Sports Against Crime programme, similar to what has been done with the Pan Against Crime undertaking.
It took some doing for those in authority to at least acknowledge that sports can help lessen that time for crime.
Such a programme would not be a case of fighting fire with fire, but an occasion of out of evil, cometh good.
So now there is the long-awaited policy, there must be real meaning and flesh to the pronouncement.
Hence, this policy, which should be implemented soonest, has to formally replace the reactive and ad hoc interventions which are pursued whenever there are some upsurge in social fall-outs.
Therefore, in framing such a Sports Against Crime policy, the knowledge and expertise of the best human resource personnel must be part of the process.
This is not only to have a proper structure, but to avoid some of the pitfalls which the Pan Against Crime initiative, with all its good, have succumbed.
In short, it must not be any slip-shod approach, as sports has greater complexities and demands than pan.
As a plus though, sports has a ready-done platform, as it is part and parcel of St Vincent and the Grenadines’ social construct.
No longer must sports be seen only as recreation, but as a vehicle for national development and social transformation.
We have to concede that in all the sayings, our educational system and other institutions, whether by design or co-incidence, have failed the youths and any corrective measures have to be germane to the other programmes and policies of the government.
Whatever is done, must be backed by holistic programmes, inclusive of parental and school involvement. Additionally, where possible and where applicable, mentorship, counselling and other supportive measures must be put in place.
Our situation is timely to assess all the social structures, family, school, church, community and otherwise already in place and conclude that there needs a retooling to cater for the present demographics of our population.
St Vincent and the Grenadines possess a youth population whose minds are pregnant with fertility, but who at times can be gullible once idleness prevails, and meaningful engagement must be the response.
If those energies could be bottled, it serves us well in other facets on our lives, in terms of productivity and meaningful living.
Sports has a built arsenal of life skills which are useful for personal development.
It should not be wishful thinking, but a matter of course that we should see more of our playing fields become lit. Also that all such playing facilities be given attention in terms of upkeep.
Critically as well, that there must be a thrust towards empowering our communities, and gaving them a sense of ownership of those facilities.
Too, it should fall into the national scheme of things that within the administrative arm of the national governance structure, a revamping of those policymakers be part of the package.
Otherwise too, it shouldn’t be far-fetched to grant concessions on sporting gear, uniforms etc. which enter this country.
Having a Sports Against Crime policy, is not as simple as kiss hand, but a well thought out programme, coupled with synergies and implementation of other support systems.
But let us give the Prime Minister the benefit of the doubt, as surely his announcement last Saturday is no blarney nor political masquerading, but a genuine proposal to dissolve the many social tensions which are brewing here in St Vincent and the Grenadines.