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THE SCORE – So much wrong in sport

Ezra Stuart

THE SCORE – So much wrong in sport

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AS BARBADIANS celebrate the 45th anniversary of their country’s Independence today, our sporting associations and sportsmen and women are not rejoicing.
There is little fanfare. No blowing of bugles, no trumpet calls as this fair land of ours is still in need of plenty.
Maybe that will change tonight when the football posse converge on the mecca of Caribbean cricket, Kensington Oval, to see either Jose y Jose Bajan Pride Ballers or Nu Look 360 Connection collect a cheque for a whopping $100 000 in the LIME Pelican Football Challenge, which has been a godsend for the sport.
It may wipe away the tears shed after our senior football team lost all six of its World Cup qualifying matches, scoring only two goals in 540 minutes.
Still, we should thank former captains John “Nobby” Parris and Norman Forde, who both made over 100 appearances for their country, as well as Jonathan Straker and Sheridan “Rudi” Grosvenor, who have all announced their retirement from national duty, for their years of service.
In spite of the losing streak and the country’s lowest world ranking in a decade, the coaching staff remains intact.
Off the field, at least, we can smile that the Barbados Football Association’s (BFA) two delegates, David Hinds and Mark “Bob” Forde, were not found guilty of any bribery allegations even as we lament the ban imposed on administrator Lisle Austin.
Still, I wonder whether Independence has any real significance in the area of sports.
While BFA will soon be getting its own artificial field, it was a dark day when the installation of floodlights was red-carded by bureaucratic bickering in an area represented by the association’s president.
After 45 years of Independence, Animal Farm’s disturbing slogan comes to mind as a couple of yards away, there is no problem with the floodlights at the hockey Astroturf facility.
It is high time that the BFA and Town and Country Planning undertake another feasibility study because lights are needed to fully utilize such a facility, especially in an amateur setting where the majority of footballers have day-time jobs.
And with so little withstood in cricket, any talk about success would be a wanton boast – unless we are referring to the series win against the England Masters in the scaled down CLOBI Challenge.
The faithful West Indian cricket fans may still be in shock that the regional team almost lost the third Test match against India after batting for the entire first two days and making a first innings total of 590. But who really cares as the aging West Indies Cricket Board president Julian Hunte and chief executive officer Ernest Hilaire were too busy speaking on political platforms during the St Lucia general election?
Chris Gayle must be wondering whether they have been using him as a political stump all along while keeping faith in their compatriot Darren Sammy, who couldn’t make the Test team on a regular basis when he (Gayle) was captain.
Pitches in Barbados for secondary school competitions, especially the Everton Weekes Under-13 Tournament, are not covered, yet the BCA pay ball and umpires fees for working men.
Are we really independent when a team which lost a semi-final match can protest and end up sharing the prize money with the team that defeated them? When our Barbados Under-19 youth cricketers can be denied an opportunity to make an historic appearance in what would’ve been their first ever final, we must wonder were our cricket is heading.
These boys don’t need a share in prize money, which will go back to the BCA anyway – they want their moment in time to play in a prestigious final. What kind of craftsmen determined that fate?
And when the Combined Campuses and Colleges (CCC) can boldly include in their team two cricketers chosen by Barbados and these players then express reluctance to represent their country, the fields and hills may be ours, but what about the people?
But at least there is plenty of self-governance when the board of directors allows UWI to participate in an inter-parish competition they re hosting.
But will Independence stop the hypocrisy when CCC’s coach/player Floyd Reifer is allowed to return home to help UWI win the Division One championship but team members
Ryan Wiggins and Nikola Parris couldn’t do the same to prevent YMPC from being relegated.
Where is our freedom when basketball is still played at the YMCA in such deplorable conditions? And when Government can fund a football tournament to the tune of over $300 000 but put on hold the laying of a new athletic track, months away from next year’s Olympics, then I know we have gone off track with our priorities.
Moreover, with defending world champion Ryan Brathwaite unable to reach the final of the same event two years later, we still have a major hurdle to clear in athletics.
Also, when only one competitor turns up for a road race staged by the National Sports Council, we can only hope that the numbers will increase significantly for the Run Barbados series.
And our cricket legends must be wondering whether Reverend Wes Hall will die before he is knighted.