Sports needs visionary leaders
This column for the past 15 years has been championing the cause of sports here in St Vincent and the Grenadines first and foremost, and ocassionally issues that are of a regional and international nature.
In so doing, the many expositions have sought to provide suggestions, highlight and laud the achievements of our sportsmen and women, and more often than not, call out those who need to be called out.
Most importantly, the hundreds of editions thus far, have been with the sole objective of bettering results both on and off the field.
With that said, the opportunity cannot be left to go unnoticed with the recent assignment of the sports portfolio at the announcement of the new cabinet of the government of St Vincent and the Grenadines, which took place last Tuesday evening.
The new configuration sees sports being assigned to the Honourable Frederick Stephenson, who also has the responsibilities for the Public Service and Consumer Affairs.
Instructively, sports has found itself at the end of the list; hopefully, not the lease of priorities.
Not withstanding the limitations of Stephenson when it comes to understanding the current needs of sports here in this country, the other duties are not so demanding.
Therefore, one expects that Stephenson will give his all to sports, granted that he is on the last leg of his political career.
To put it mildly, he has to leave a mark and ensure that he does something of significance in sports and put real meaning to the portfolio.
No spring chicken to service at the ministerial level, it is his Stephenson second coming as the minister with responsibility for sports.
He served from 2010 to sometime in 2012, before giving way to Ces Mc Kie in a Cabinet reshuffle.
But since, things have changed and Stephenson re-enters at a time when sports has taken on greater significance and the demands are more than simply overseeing a ministry.
Sports over time, has become a vehicle for social transformation and a fast growing commerical sector in the world economy.
We though have left sports to chance; for things to evolve, by reacting to the many shortcomings, but more so, devoid of a policy frame for its advancement.
These are not all and most telling, is that sports here in St Vincent and the Grenadines has lacked visionary leaders from within the political apparatus to show teeth and grit to map out a proper pathway to its development.
To be fair though to former ministers of sports for the past two decades, namely Mike Browne, Clayton Burgin, Ces Mc Kie and Stephenson himself, there have not been definitive policies framed to put flesh of the bones of sports.
So from the outside, persons look blame the minister with the portfolio or the poor response to sports, and to some extent, this may be correct.
But, there has to be a wider governmental effort exerted so that sports will get the support and the kind of push needed.
Do the policy-makers have the will to place sports on the front burner or as former minister Mike Browne used to put in “at the centrality” of national development?
Those personnel, some say, do not even have the skill set to do so, which would put all arguments about sports development to rest.
Ideally, the person appointed to the post of minister of sports, his/her responsibility should be to articulate the policies, drive them and at best, see them to fruition.
So as Stephenson steps into the seat, there have already been snippets of apprehension that he is not the fittest person to hold such portfolio. Let us give him the benefit of the doubt and allow him some time before the judgement is brought against him.
Minister Stephenson has to fully embrace the fact that being a minister with the responsibility for sports does not stop at being present at opening and closing ceremonies spewing rhetoric and going to parliament sessions to recite unfounded and phantom sports policies.
His portfolio requires more than his physical presence, but at the crossroad which sports is positioned, Stephenson has to make his mark. He has to do much better than his predecessor and give some hope to persons who have sports at heart and know the value of sports to national development.
Minister Stephenson, let not your tenure as Minister with the responsibility for sports be another run of the mill.