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Athletes – Rise to the occasion

Athletes – Rise to the occasion

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SPORTS REVIEW

The year 2005 must go down as the year of mediocrity for our local sportsmen and women.

Their performances have not lit up the world. Except for the exploits of female basketballers Sophia Young and Sancho Lyttle, the nation had little to shout about.

The same can be said of several national associations, many of which gave under par stewardship and in some case none at all. Their lack of stewardship may have transmitted to the athletes themselves. {{more}}

The tennis, table tennis and athletics associations may be the ones which can raise their heads with any level of satisfaction.

Team Athletics SVG and the Table Tennis Association showed in the past year, of the stickability and vision needed at the level of national associations.

The Right On Track initiative by TASVG augurs well for the identification of emerging athletic talent. The hosting of the Level One Coaching certificate course will only seek to embellish the sport’s status. In addition, the participation of the nation’s athletes in several regional and international meets , ensured the sport was always in the spotlight.

On the local front , road racing had its biggest financial injection for many years. The round the town road relay, the North Leeward 10 K, the Bequia and All Windward road races, all added to the TASVG’s calendar.

The North Leeward 10K course, with its hilly terrain and rustic setting can be developed into the Caribbean’s premier distance road event venue. That association’s systematic approach to development should be borrowed by others.

Similarly, the table tennis fraternity during 2005 saw a boost in the sport. The five month stint by Egyptian coach Ahmed Dawlatly brought new life. His tenure saw eight coaches receiving certificates. The primary school table tennis programme got going with at least one of the employed full time. The mandatory incorporation of table tennis on the Physical Education time table of the Kingstown Preparatory School was a definite plus.

Tennis with its exclusive facilities was able to stage several junior championships, while rising stars Corey Huggins and Kirk Da Silva went off to Florida to improve their abilities.

Cricket, Squash, Rugby and Body Building, all recorded moderate achievements in 2005.

The male and female cricket competitions were successfully completed and the hosting of a One Day International, the West Indies Women’s tournament as well as the Windwards and West Indies Under-19 competitions were positives.

Shane Slater was the recipient of a scholarship which would enable him to hone his squash skills. Hollis Greene continued to improve in the Rugby arena while Body Building successfully brought off a regional championship.

But again there were others which were disappointing .The Netball Association and the Football Federation were the underachievers granted the standards they have set in previous years. Although St. Vincent and the Grenadines earned a place in the 2006 Commonwealth Games, the netball returns in other regional tournaments were abysmal. This country gave up its hold on the OECS Club title, failed to regain the OECS Under-23 and the Under16’s were last from the bottom at their outing.

The SVGFF was relatively mute in 2005. Despite beating Trinidad and Tobago 1-0 in the return leg, SVG failed to qualify to the Digicel Cup Final. The Women’s Under-19 team was woeful in its display in St. Lucia, while the Under-15 maintained the country’s status in the English speaking Caribbean rankings, by reaching the Quarter-final of the CFU Invitational competition in Trinidad and Tobago. The Federation’s failure to have a presentation ceremony for its inaugural National League black eyed that body’s performance. Constrained by finance, the creative energies of the executive could have been employed to give football more prominence in 2005.

The basketball association functioned mainly in theory. They suffered from the iniquitous culture of chopping and changing of executive members due to fall outs. That association during the year failed to host its male championship, while the female segment ended in a near fracas. The planned prize giving ceremony is yet to come off.

The male competition did not get the expected sponsorship from Vinlec. And, this was a direct response from inept organisation in 2004, which was hinted at by the company’s CEO at the closing ceremony of that year’s season.

Saving the face of basketball was the annual Bequia competitions which for another year were properly organised and reports on each of the matches in the tournament were prompt and detailed.

Volleyball on a revival path, made efforts to re-ignite the spiking spirit, while Sailing and Swimming also joined in the rejuvenation exercise. Boxing, Dominoes, and Draughts, extended their period of dormancy.

2006 must been seen as the year of consolidation, refocusing and change in some of these associations. It cannot be business as usual, as sports are taking greater social prominence. Sports as a viable economic linkage can be a vehicle for transformation.

This country is pregnant with sporting talent which needs harnessing and administrators with the will to see our sportsmen and sportswomen succeed. But this must run parallel to the development and upkeep of sporting facilities in the country. There are too few such facilities.

Let us strive despite this constraint to make 2006, “The Year of Excellence”.

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