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Special Olympics SVG sets record straight about tennis coach

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Editor: Volunteers are the backbone of the Special Olympics SVG movement. They are coaches, trainers, officials, event organizers, fund-raisers and managers. They can also be unified partners, playing alongside athletes with intellectual disabilities, or fans cheering in the stands. The organization commends everyone coming forward to give of their time and skills with the primary intent of helping our athletes find their own strengths and abilities.{{more}}

Our athletes head to World Games 2015 because of the significant work of all our coaches; one such coach is Mr Onike Span. Coach Span came forward since the introduction of tennis to Special Olympics SVG’s list of sporting disciplines in 2013. Coach Span has attended the obligatory Special Olympics SVG coaches training workshop and has participated in other online coaches’ webinars. Coach Span’s dedication and commitment to the growth of SOSVG’s athletes are evident on and off the court.

The Grassroots Tennis Court (GTC), is a commendable programme and no doubt plays a significant role in bringing the sport of tennis to athletes with and without disabilities. We, however, take note of a concern expressed by Mr Grant Connell, the president of GTC, that Trevor Sam, a coach with GTC was not “selected” as tennis coach for Special Olympics SVG. There were also disparaging comments made, which call into question the integrity and commitment of our SOSVG tennis coach. When Mr Connell stated that “if people come out of the woodwork to use such occasion [as the World Games] to fuel their own special needs and create a veneer that people can see through, that’s unfortunate,” it questions the integrity of not only our tennis coach, but our entire Programme. This concern is also raised as we go into the final lap of raising funds to attend World Games, 2015, the first time since 2003.

We truly want to be clear, because as we seek to rebuild this Programme and the opportunity it offers, it is important that all our partners and potential partners have a clear understanding of the position of the World Games as an element of our Programme. While the World Games are an important event on our calendar, the year round training and related activities are equally important. If Mr Sam wishes to volunteer and be a part of this very inclusive movement, I invite him to collect a volunteer form from our offices. Following an initial screening, he would then participate in the series of online workshops and webinars, after which he could then become a certified coach. However, at this time and for the record, we wish to make it clear to the nation that Trevor Sam of Grassroot Tennis Club is not listed on the Special Olympics SVG Coaches Roster and has never coached athletes on behalf of Special Olympics SVG. Further, GTC has never approached Special Olympics SVG offering their coaching services; however, SOSVG is excited about the possibility such a partnership could offer our athletes in the future.

This is a time for national unity behind Team SOSVG. Any unguarded statement at this time can inadvertently lead to controversy and negatively impact the team spirit and goodwill that have been built around our athletes’ preparation for the 2015 World Games.

Janice McMaster

Special Olympics SVG

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