Football being shot in the foot
Gun play at open fields is shooting football in the foot and threatens to cripple it at a rapid rate.
Shoot-outs at three venues recently have done plenty to inflict more hurt on the sport’s image in Barbados.
The only good thing to emerge from the incidents is that no spectator was injured.
However, there is no guarantee that in such an environment that innocent bystanders won’t get hurt in the crossfire.
Therein, though, lies the irony and travesty of what has occurred.
The shootings are apparently unrelated to the football itself. Yet the sport gets a bad name.
The negative profiling of football continues.
How is it that you don’t associate violence with other disciplines?
The notion that all three incidents happened in the space of two weeks would make you wonder if there is a conspiracy to stop football from being played in the communities.
If this proved to be the case it would be a downright disgrace and selfish act because it is at the grassroots and community levels where football is most vibrant and unites people.
The fact that in other jurisdictions people have to be fearful about congregating at various gatherings because the shadow of terrorism prevails, we can count our blessings that we are still free to be among each other enjoying ourselves without such fears.
I am not equating terrorism with the shooting incidents at the open grounds but the point has to be made that spectators, if they value their lives, will not continue to support football en masse if the illicit gun play is not halted.
The fall-out is immediate in several areas. For instance, media crews can refuse to cover matches because they see it as a security risk and competitions are robbed of the publicity they deserve.
Entrepreneurs also stand to lose financially if there is nobody to buy what they trade. Those they are working to support suffer by extension. I would hate to believe this to be a deliberate act by the gunmen to take bread out of their brother’s mouth.
Another salient point is that those who cause disturbances are seriously undermining the good work being done by organisers within the respective communities.
We need to safeguard the few pillars of hope that exist in a society that is becoming increasingly aggressive, uncaring and selfish.
I don’t know it to be a fact but I wonder if the Orange Hill out of season tournament died a natural death because of a shooting incident there two years ago.
In my opinion, this had become the biggest tournament of its kind in Barbados. It brought great pride to the community.
I was in awe the first time I attended. There were people like peas, cutting across the social divide and bringing them together in what was a true unifying environment.
Lo and behold some people who wanted to revive the days in America’s wild west turned up one night a nd virtually shot the Orange Hill experience into oblivion.
Yet again, the shooting and the football were said to be unrelated but look at what that one night of recklessness has cost.
The tournament, still with the potential to grow even more, was uprooted and the work of those who toiled in the vineyard to make it a success seems to have been in vain.
We can call for greater security, better policing and the like but from my own observations the mirror that reflects certain attitudes in society is that even with the long arm of the law present it makes no difference at times to those who are bent on flying in the face of convention.
Therefore, the first fundamental area we have to tackle is try to change the mindset of the few who do not understand that one foolish act can destroy the foundation built by others and in so doing weakens the contribution community leaders can make to national development.
As someone who was involved in organising the Spooners Hill out of season tournament in the late 1970s, I believe I am well placed to understand the value such tournaments bring to a community.
I don’t want the day to come when such activities are forced from our sporting landscape on account of the actions of a few when it is the majority that will suffer most.
• Andi Thornhill is sports editor at the Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation and can be reached at [email protected]