A THORNY ISSUE – Passport, please
MARY FRASER got her rewards recently for outstanding performances in athletics and boxing for Barbados last year.
One more accolade will be a crowning glory: a Barbados passport.
I believe it is common knowledge among those in sporting circles that when she represents the island overseas, she has to use a travel document.
She did when she performed so brilliantly at the CARIFTA Games in St Kitts, where she won three events and earned the coveted Austin Sealy Trophy and when she took a gold medal at the Caribbean Development Boxing Championships in Guyana.
Fraser is an outstanding prodigy in both sports and I believe, if all goes well, she will continue to represent the island with distinction in the future.
However, the absence of a Barbados passport has the potential to stall her progress because she will not be able to travel outside of the region without one.
In fact, many were surprised that in 2015 she wasn’t included in any of the Barbados track and field teams for events outside of the Caribbean, but she couldn’t be considered without her “papers”.
To cut to the chase, Fraser was born in Guyana and came here when she was a toddler, but after all of this time, it appears that her status hasn’t been regularised.
There must be obvious challenges or obstacles in this regard, but I am saying whatever they are, they should be resolved expeditiously because we can’t on one hand be feting her and praising her performances and on the other, she still doesn’t hold a local passport.
It seems to be morally wrong that the issue is still lingering and the longer it remains up in the air, greater is the probability that she will continue to miss opportunities to further her career. It is phenomenal to be blessed with so much natural talent in more than one sport, but you can only grow and get even better by taking full advantage of all of the avenues that are available to you.
Fraser deserves that chance. A logical question will be if there is a precedent for others who found themselves in a similar position to the Daryll Jordan Secondary School student.
Power not in their hands
I know you will also be thinking whether or why people “in high places” can’t sort the matter out to remove the barriers that confront her because it will certainly be above the parameters of the athletics and boxing administrations to have it done. I know they have made representation in the relevant quarters, but the power isn’t in their hands to call the final shot.
Obviously, there are legal and other procedures to follow, so these organisations can’t cross the line and it would be unfair to apportion blame to them. Indeed, it may not even be a case of blaming anyone, but it is taking too long to resolve this issue.
However, since the buck doesn’t stop with them, it seems clear that the onus is definitely on the powers that be to do what has to be done.
After all, Fraser is upholding the honour of our Flag and carrying the hopes of the nation in her sporting endeavours. She shouldn’t be made to feel like an outsider in any form or fashion.
The honourable duty is for the state to reciprocate in a manner that would show true appreciation of an athlete who is very proud to represent Barbados.
I want to reiterate that I have full respect for the laws of the land and I know things of this nature can’t be done without going through the right process, but I feel the time to get it resolved is long gone.
• Andi Thornhill is an experienced sports journalist and media consultant.