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A THORNY ISSUE: Self-reliance the new mantra

Andi Thornhill

A THORNY ISSUE: Self-reliance the new mantra

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Austerity is here and it will be biting.
How will the sporting fraternity be affected and how will they respond?
What is their game plan?
Let me preface my answer to this rhetorical question by saying that many seem to be resigned to doom and gloom rather than having an outlook that will rescue them from falling over the proverbial fiscal cliff.
Despite the circumstances, I don’t think we can be submissive to adversity and just lay down and die. We have to find some means of fighting back.
As it relates to sports, I think that self-reliance might be more pertinent now than it was in the past because some critical financial pillars may no longer be able to help in the quantum they usually do.
For instance, I think it is a given that even subventions through a quasi-Government agency like the National Sports Council (NSC) to its members will be trimmed because circumstances dictate that Government has to be extremely prudent with its spending.
It might now reach a stage of means testing or allocating funds based on stringent criteria, which weren’t options before. I can’t see routine lump sums being the order of the day to national sporting organisations notwithstanding that there’s income from the lottery as well.
So that has to be considered by the organisations that benefit from NSC funds.
There’s also the reality that our corporate citizens might not be in a position to help all causes like before if consumer spending is depreciated because of job cuts.
Further, it must be taken into account that it’s not only sporting ventures that they have to consider; there’s a wide net of people seeking help annually.
Hence, with smaller budgets for sponsorship and marketing you could find that some businesses will be more inclined to assist projects that will bring greater visibility and mileage for their products. You can be sure that events like Crop Over and the Caribbean Premier League will be at the head of the race in budgets that have already been prepared.
The economic downturn will also have a direct impact on those sportsmen and women who have been unfortunate to be part of the public sector lay-offs and those that might be pending in the private sector. Things like buying sports equipment, supplements and even paying subscriptions could be challenging if you are forced to watch your spending.
In times like these we need good examples of how to navigate rough waters and how not to become victims of quicksand.
Like me, the sporting family should be inspired by the story of how the St John Wesleyan Holiness Church recently unveiled their sporting facilities. According to reports, the mission took two years to complete but a bout of self-reliance helped their cause immeasurably.
Our mantra has to be: what can we do for ourselves? How can we mobilise the community to see themselves as co-owners/partners in our aspirations in using sports as a method of building social capital to help contribute to their own personal development and national development by extension.
Along with the usual fund-raising measures like sponsor sheets, cake sales, selling at fairs and car washes, new inventive models will have to be found if it is still true that necessity is the mother of invention.
I foresee more parents being asked to pull their pockets in helping organisations with overseas ventures as financial rigidity becomes the norm. Now more than ever, I think it will be very pertinent if fewer officials travel with teams, especially if we have individuals on board who are qualified to multitask.
However, I still expect that the funding to ensure that we do more than just participate at the Commonwealth Games in Scotland will be forthcoming.
I distinctly remember promises being made to the Barbados Netball Association in respect of preparing the team for the Games.
National honour has to be a priority even in the toughest of economic times.
• Andi Thornhill is an experienced, award-winning sports journalist.