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A THORNY ISSUE: Time to honour more Bajans


ANDI THORNHILL, [email protected]

A THORNY ISSUE: Time to honour more Bajans

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BIG HAIL to the Jamaica Sports Minister, Babsie Grange, for opting to rename the alma mater of West Indies Women’s cricket captain, Stafanie Taylor, after her.

This is a significant honour when you consider that she’s only 24, but age shouldn’t matter in an instance like this because her excellent performance played a huge role in the team winning their first ever World Cup.

You can imagine how many young women Taylor and the rest of the team would have inspired to get involved in the sport in light of their success. Honestly, you can’t buy inspiration and that’s why I believe it is a fitting reward that would rightfully allow Taylor to leave a legacy at an institution where she began playing cricket.

We are already seeing the spin-offs from the Women’s triumph in Barbados, where there was an overwhelming response from schoolgirls to a coaching programme conducted by Richard Clarke, who has years of experience in the area of women’s cricket.

Taylor’s honour puts into perspective our response and treatment of our outstanding sportsmen personalities in most sports over the years. We always seem to be the most reticent and slowest to give our heroes and heroines their due in a tangible way or in a form that would safeguard their legacy.

Accolades

Lest we forget, even before the Taylor announcement last week, two other Caribbean governments were quick to recognise outstanding sportsmen and women. Darren Sammy and Johnson Charles barely got off the plane from India before they were showered with accolades. The Beausejour Stadium has been renamed after the West Indies T20 skipper and Charles was given a portion of land and other gifts.

Grenada also stepped out of the blocks to reward Andre Fletcher and two other athletes for excellence in their respective disciplines. World-class quarter-miler Kirani James was given his due long time ago for his superb exploits on the track. Of course, we know what St Kitts has done for the evergreen Kim Collins who continues to compete and be competitive at the ripe old age of 40 among the world’s best track sprinters.

Comparative differences

Trinidad and Tobago wasted no time in recognising the efforts of sporting icons like the late Jean Pierre, Haseley Crawford, Brian Lara, Dwight Yorke and Russell Latapy, among others. I can go on and bring comparative differences to support my point in relation to our Caribbean neighbours.

I just find it to be a sickening mentality that we proceed in a manner towards our sporting icons that isn’t very encouraging for the ones we hope to follow in their footsteps.

Just to think that no government or organisation has found it fitting to rename the Netball Stadium after Marva Sealy, who is generally regarded as our best ever player. What will it take for that to happen?

I can’t see why Charlie Griffith couldn’t have been honoured in a manner similar to Sir Wes Hall for his tremendous contribution to local and regional cricket. They hunted as a pair and when there are cricket debates their names aren’t separated.

What of Seymour Nurse?

When I was growing up, all of my peers wanted to play cricket or walk like Sir Garfield Sobers and bat with the grace of Seymour Nurse. Sir Garry has received his just deserts rising to the highest status of National Hero but Nurse shouldn’t be left out of the brew.

His performance justifies it. In 29 Tests he scored 2 523 runs at an average of 47.60 per innings. He is still revered by those of his generation but what is there to maintain his legacy?

I recall about two years ago I suggested that the National Stadium be named after Obadele Thompson and it was knocked down for some of the most simplistic reasons. Thompson technically owns Barbados’ only Olympic medal, bronze captured in the marquee Olympic 100 metres in Sydney 2000.

Jim Wedderburn also owns an Olympic bronze medal being part of the West Indies quartet that came third in the 4×400 metres relay in Rome in 1960.

Many people dislike the manner in which draughts icon Ronald “Suki” King has been handled.

Blood, sweat and tears

All across the country there are former sportsmen and women who feel slighted and talk painfully about how they have been treated by the system after giving blood, sweat and tears for this country.

In light of Taylor’s wonderful treatment by the Jamaica government, I expect that on this occasion we will not be so tardy, and give national honours at the appropriate time to the Bajans, who were part of the world champion West Indies team. They helped to raise the level of interest in women’s cricket that wasn’t there before.

I don’t think I’m asking for too much.

• Andi Thornhill is an experienced sports journalist and media consultant.

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