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A THORNY ISSUE: Divided we stand


ANDI THORNHILL

A THORNY ISSUE: Divided we stand

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TRIBAL WARS MUST stop for local sports to develop.

What I consider as egotistical behaviour in some quarters might produce a handful of winners who will enjoy bragging rights for a while, but the image of their respective sports will become the long-term victim.

Apart from reducing opportunities for the athletes under their umbrella, they must also be wary that sponsorship could take a beating if they continue to wash dirty linen in public.

I was among those who weren’t too comfortable with the outcome of the last annual general meeting of the Barbados Amateur Bodybuilding and Fitness Federation, based on the argument and evidence showing that there were alleged breaches in applying the tenets of its constitution in such matters.

However, the court decided that the current administration was on solid ground and ruled in its favour. It was legitimised. Under normal circumstances, those who brought the action should be gracious in defeat and let business continue as normal.

I believe they are law-abiding citizens, but it doesn’t seem that all have reached the stage of burying the hatchet just yet. It was a real big wound and I believe it will take time to heal. There will still be that period of polarisation, but in the meantime, if they accept the ruling of the court, they must abide by that and function accordingly.

Respect is due to a person’s office, so people must adhere to the regulations of the federation and fall in line.

Equally, the federation must not be seen to be targeting those who were thought to be part of the opposition ranks because it appears, for whatever reason, that we are not having the benefit of seeing all of the best competitors in the various categories in competition.

Some have claimed, too, that the apparent ongoing stand-off is also depriving the national team of its cream, and they used the recent Central American and Caribbean Championships as an example. Barbados did well, but just imagine how much better we may have done if we were considered to be at full strength.

And that’s the real point, we need to stop missing. We are too small a country to be divided and still continue to punch above our weight, as former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan once observed. Based on this line of reasoning, this particular conflict can be easily resolved.

The aggrieved parties will have a chance to boot out the incumbents at the next annual general meeting if they are still dissatisfied with any aspect of their stewardship.

I think the same approach has to be taken in the cycling issue. Truthfully, I am not convinced that the vociferous group opposed to the Keith Yearwood administration really wants power. This matter has been pending for more than five years and lo and behold, the hard-working Yearwood is still in office and despite the internal strife, Bajans are still competing at international meets.

If the beef has to do with the lack of interest in local meets, the question has to be asked, who is to be blamed for this?

If the Cycling Union hasn’t been staging the full quota of meets that it should, then it must be held accountable.

I’m aware that when a legal loophole was found in a proposed challenge to cycling’s executive, their opponents had to back off. So what’s the next move? They, too, can grab their opportunity when the next annual general meeting is constitutionally due if they are not bluffing.

I can’t for the life of me understand why there’s a stand-off between Dale Clarke and Philip “Foff” Garner when our indigenous sport, road tennis, is on the verge of taking the world by storm.

No one individual can claim to have put the sport on its present platform. It has been a collective effort that began back in the 1920s when working class boys weren’t allowed to play lawn tennis, so they created road tennis as an alternative.

Neither gentleman was born at that time, but they have played significant roles in bringing it to a juncture where its popularity is massive and national respect is increasing.

Minister of Sports Stephen Lashley has been very instrumental in raising the national consciousness of road tennis by making it a priority on his agenda.

When I began covering the sport in the late 1970s, the late Lance Bynoe was the leading light in pushing for more recognition and respect for road tennis. MacArthur Barrow has also been playing his role. Many other hands, either as administrators or players, have carved a wonderful brand of which Bajans can be extremely proud.

I predict that within five years, once we don’t self-destruct through unnecessary conflicts, road tennis will make giant strides in being recognised as an international sport. The rejuvenation of the upcoming World Championships that will include foreign players, will spark this kind of interest.

It is bound to grow once we make good use of social media to spread the road tennis gospel. This was used effectively by Clarke’s Professional Road Tennis Association in the recent Barbados Public Workers Cooperative Credit Union’s Monarchs Of The Court which was streamed live on Facebook.

The organisers of the World Championships can adopt this template and don’t feel that they are follow fashion because nobody has a monopoly on ideas and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with the each one-teach one concept, particularly if it is constructive and opens avenues for development.

So Clarke, who revolutionised the sport by introducing monetary rewards, and Garner, who I regard as the most passionate, sincere and selfless practitioner around it, have major roles to play as road tennis evolves to reach its apex.

Can you imagine what more growth is possible if these two join hands for the good of this enthralling discipline?

Mass organisations like cricket, football and netball have had their fair share of rancour and division over the years, but I’m sure they will agree that each has had its greatest successes when they function as united entities.

After all, unity is strength.

• Andi Thornhill is an experienced, award-winning sports journalist.

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