Sports action a must

Andi Thornhil,

Added 20 February 2013

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PROMISES and performance. There’s a huge difference so I hope the political directorate of both parties will be capable of keeping manifesto promises after a Government takes office. I know it is normal for sports to be earmarked for development in various areas but I am also aware that the discipline isn’t usually treated with any priority because it isn’t part of the national psyche to do so. Why should we expect that anything will change this time around and particularly at a time when it is being said that there isn’t a lot of money available to do much of anything? I am tempted not to hold my breath but being the eternal optimist, I am prepared to give both parties a chance in delivering on their respective promises to put measures in place to develop sports. Our political planners are people of goodwill but at times I think they lack the will to invest capital in our youth who have the potential to conquer the world but aren’t always afforded the right structures to put them on a level playing field with international opponents. You can’t fight a war with people who have nuclear weapons and your only means of resistance is a plain Bajan big rock. We have to first look at equipping our athletes with the ways and means to conquer. Money always comes to mind first in these discussions but I think plotting the road map is more important because you have to be deliberate in knowing where you are going and what you want to achieve and other things will fall into place. It is at this stage that the politicos should sit with those who are involved in running sports to get a true picture of what their needs are. I hope this is the course they took much in the same way they may have consulted with other institutions in laying out manifesto plans and pledges. A costing of sports expenditure should have been undertaken because that would be an indication that sport should be treated with the seriousness it deserves. I am not suggesting that the provision of cash, other inducements and incentives and facilities will automatically produce world beaters but I think that at least the powers at be should put themselves in a position to meet most, if not all, of the requirements that place our sporting ambassadors at ease while they prepare for combat. My reason for taking this position is that the politicians are among the first to get on the bandwagon once people from among us excel but there would be little to point to in terms of assistance or encouragement before the goal was achieved. People are not foolish and it is in instances like these where the credibility of politicians is questioned and why the youth in particular have such a negative view of them sometimes. I also think it is possible to have some level of professional sports in Barbados that can be driven by Government because it would be one way of addressing the question of unemployment on one hand but we should dare to create such an avenue that children can systematically and deliberately plan to be professionals after graduating from schools. I heard one of the leaders in the current campaign challenge his audience to think of doing extraordinary things to build an extraordinary nation and I think a move to enable professional sports is in the realm for politicians to aspire to. We need to see sports for the billion dollar industry that it is and look to exploit those opportunities where individuals and country can gain mutual benefits. We have enough sporting capital that can brand Barbados as a destination of excellence much in the same way that our cricket legends blazed the trail and contributed to the growth of tourism years ago. However, it will take a proactive, visionary government to make such things a reality. I know it may seem that we believe government has to do everything on its own but on the contrary I think that they must have other social partners on board but they must be seen to be taking the lead. The rank and file will fall into line. In short, I want to see manifesto promises for sports put into motion. Excuses are never a good substitute for implementation. Political promises need not be a comfort to a fool. • Andi Thornhill is an experienced, award-winning freelance sports journalist.

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