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A THORNY ISSUE: Help athletes in rise to glory

ANDI THORNHILL, [email protected]

A THORNY ISSUE: Help athletes in rise to glory

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A TRIUMPH in sports is a victory for all.

It is unifying and inspirational. It brings joy where there is none and hope to the hopeless. It could even increase national productivity in several areas. It is something we can all identify with as it transcends race, class, politics and religion.

We were reminded about the power of sports with the recent celebrations for our cricketers and athletes.We went more than the proverbial extra mile to let our champions know how proud we are of their achievements and that we were lifted to the summit of excellence with them. Oh, what a beautiful feeling.

Schools and communities that paid homage to their heroes must be congratulated for playing their roles in recognising talent and performance, but like the rest of the society as a whole, they must grasp the true meaning of the entire exercise and experience amid the euphoria.

Let us use this as a game changer in the way we relate to and treat our athletes on a general basis. In Barbados we are guilty of only seeing the worth of our sportsmen when they succeed.

We have very little appreciation for the hard work they put in to get to the top and very often fail to put our money where our mouth is in helping them to build the foundation that leads to glory.

Yet we are the first to be there for the photo opportunity and to jump on the bandwagon when something marvellous and significant has been achieved. Who are we trying to fool? Only ourselves.

This article is not meant to dwell on the past but how we should plan for the future.

Whoever said that communities can’t contribute to the grooming and development of potential stars who come from among them? Do you want a better example of the possibilities of this than what the Market Hill clan did for the homegrown cricketers who were part of the victorious West Indies Women’s T20 team?

They deserve the ten points calypsonian Colin Spencer sang about some years ago, but they and other communities can use it as a blueprint on how to assist in rolling out the road map for potential champions.

I heard one of the co-ordinators in the Market Hill project speak about how willing and able businesses in the catchment area were in making a tangible contribution to the effort. Immediately I thought how feasible it would be if those same people can start a community fund for sportsmen from within their circle that can give assistance as needed.

Mentorship programme

What about setting up mentorship and counselling programmes for those who may need it from time to time because some of the problems sportsmen encounter aren’t only financial? The comfort of having that hand around you and that voice to give reassurance can be vital in troubled times.

I believe and know these things can happen on a sustained basis, but we probably take a lot for granted when the athletes and their coaches are sowing seeds for success and don’t pay the attention it deserves, but the reality check kicks in when there’s reason to celebrate.

The same modus operandi applies to schools and other organisations associated with athletes, because at the end of the day their moments of glory are ours too, so within that context there are mutual benefits. I’m just saying don’t let us have a knee-jerk reaction to sports development, but just be more proactive and be more genuine in being part of the team.

Not only that, this approach in its own way should help to ease some of the burden off central government who may not always be in a position to satisfy all the needs of everyone who has a genuine case of need, particularly if economic times aren’t the best.

I agree wholeheartedly with those who say that even in hard economic times, Government still needs to prioritise, but my larger point is that in the case of emerging sportsmen we are their first shepherds, the first cog in the extended family that helps to raise them and who would hopefully share in whatever success they might attain later in life.

It is never too late for a shower of rain. It is time expedience is thrown through the window and more genuine care for our sportsmen is invited through the front door.

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