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A THORNY ISSUE: Invest money, not just words

Andi Thornhill

A THORNY ISSUE: Invest money, not just words

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A couple of recent instances make me wonder if that saying is only lip service and hot air which just serve to demoralise rather than empower those you’re hoping to target.
I couldn’t imagine not watching the CARIFTA Games on free-to-air television especially after our taste buds were teased and seduced with coverage of inter-school sports.
Eventually, like most athletics fans, I had to search diligently to source a “live” stream of the games but what about those supporters who don’t have access to the Internet?
I don’t think that there was any other form of coverage throughout the English-speaking Caribbean.
Therefore, the local state broadcaster shouldn’t be made a scapegoat because, from my knowledge of these matters, it would seem that no major regional media entity was able to secure broadcast rights which other stations would normally purchase.
In broadcast parlance, it doesn’t seem as if a link was available to show the games on television.
But given the importance of CARIFTA to the development of regional athletics, I don’t think we should find ourselves in this dilemma.
Most of those who turned out to be global stars had their grounding at CARIFTA. We owe these games a huge debt for providing the platform for our emerging talent.
I think the organisation responsible for staging the games should do whatever is possible to ensure they are screened every year. CARIFTA is very marketable and it should be easy to encourage big business to get on board.
I know that in 2010 telecommunications company LIME had a three-year agreement with the organisers which made it possible for the games to be aired. We are thankful for that intervention but why can’t others who benefit from consumer dollars do the same?
Besides cricket, athletics has brought us the most global recognition as a people who can compete and dominate in sports.
It has, therefore, earned the right to special treatment beginning at the nursery level.
On the other hand, all local media houses should have an annual presence at the games as a sequel to the coverage of school sports.
The NATION Publishing Company Limited is the only one that sees the importance of doing so. The others need to budget to carry out their responsibility and civic duty in this issue. I honestly don’t think any of the radio stations should be telling their listeners that it was difficult getting information out of Martinique. They should be represented.
Put it in your budgets from early. CARIFTA happens every Easter, so plan accordingly. It is equally as vital for media establishments to invest in their staff. Covering events of this magnitude help them to gain experience and helps with their development.
I also had to stop and wonder why the organisers of the Barbados Cup could only muster one major sponsor after 27 years of aiding in the growth of local and regional youth football.
That many years in any endeavour illustrates that it’s not a fly-by-night operation so greater consideration should be given to sponsoring it.
I accept that businesses can’t help every venture but I believe the Barbados Cup, given its longevity, should be seen as an exception.
In fact, we could understand why founder George Lascaris has reservations about staging next year’s event.
The former Barbados goalkeeper and president of the Barbados Football Association lamented that he didn’t even have enough funds to ensure that trained medics could be at all the games as normal.
Fortunately, there were only a handful of injuries that couldn’t be treated at the grounds.
The point is that once an institution has built a long and credible profile, they shouldn’t be left in the cold if they seek assistance.
Invest in youth? How serious are we about this?
• Andi Thornhill is an experienced, award-winning sports journalist.