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THORNY ISSUE: Work together for cycling’s good

Andi Thornhill

THORNY ISSUE: Work together for cycling’s good

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Oh for cycling to return to its glory days!
What will it take?
To begin with, you need a group of stakeholders that are willing to work together, but at the moment it seems easier to sell ice to an Eskimo than for that to happen.
In recent weeks we have been reading about a house that’s split right down the middle with the executive seeming to be on a very bumpy road.
Its governance has been questioned with great verbal venom and there seems to be no hiding place. The howls of disatisfaction get louder every day. 
Typically, president of the Barbados Cycling Union (BCU), Keith Yearwood, hit back with a very strong response but it seems there’s still a very long way to go to restore normalcy to the sport.
One good thing about Yearwood’s response is that he’s prepared to extend the proverbial olive branch and meet with his detractors.
I think that’s the best place to start, unless those opposed to him feel that time for peace talks has long passed.
If that’s the case, there may be a history to that position, where some may argue that they’ve walked that path before without any results.
As a neutral, I want to suggest that the Keith Yearwood I’ve known for donkey years has always struck me as a man who’s approachable, a man who listens and a man who wants to see the best for any organisation he’s been a part of. However, some of the criticisms seem to suggest that there’s been a change in his demeanour.
It doesn’t mean they’re right because I know in everything you find those who oppose for opposing sake solely on the basis that they may not like a particular individual. Hence, I view certain positions circumspectly. 
The majority of comments, though, seem to suggest that Yearwood is ruling with a dictatorial iron fist.
If that’s really so, he’s heading down the wrong path. He needs to cease and settle and go back to the drawing board and reconfigure his leadership style.
At the end of the day it’s only the sport that stands to suffer when there’s a public stand-off between warring parties in matters that ought to be dealt with privately and prudently.
As the president said, bad publicity can only affect the sport’s image and makes it even more difficult to get sponsorship, especially at a time when the financial cake is getting smaller although there’s no reduction in the number of players after a slice or even a crumb.
So we have to be civil in the manner we carry ourselves because we are being watched and evaluated all the time.
 We could find ourselves at the back of the line in a very long pecking order. There could be close to 50 sporting organisations in Barbados seeking help.
The pertinent question is: how have we arrived at this point in a sport that had overwhelming mass support especially in the mid-1970s when we had international cycling?
Did the administrative skills dip after the voluntary departure of the Stoutes from direct participation in the sport?
It certainly seems so, and those who have been involved since then should ask themselves why.
I agree that we need to upgrade facilities but the administration of cycling must also be repaired urgently or we are doomed to fail all of those who want to leave their mark on the sport, especially the youth. 
There seem to be fundamental differences between the president and his executive and the rank and file.
From the outside looking in, I think an organisation like the Barbados Olympic Association needs to step in and mediate a settlement for the benefit of the sport and not any individual in particular. Too much is at stake.
We cannot continue to have boycotts of events and so few competitors turning up in a vain effort to keep cycling going.
There seems to be a very hostile environment between those for and those against for any good in the immediate future to come out of cycling unless higher forces help to resolve the burning issues. This should be a matter also for the National Sports Council to consider because the sport comes under its umbrella.
Let’s not waste any more time. The time to act is now to put the wheels back on cycling.
• Andi Thornhill is an experienced, award-winning freelance sports journalist. email:[email protected]