Give Fraser a passport
OUR SCHOOLS’ ATHLETICS SEASON is upon us and I recently had a conversation with a young, tremendously talented athlete who undoubtedly is among the best in the country.
She aspires to represent Barbados at the international level and has the potential to realise this dream.
In 2015, we watched in awe as she dominated at the CARIFTA Games. She defied the odds and silenced the critics when, in a mesmerising exhibition of poise, power and tact, she destroyed the field of more senior athletes in her final race. It was an excellent display of running which most will cherish down through the years.
Mary Fraser, for various reasons, did not live up to expectation in 2016. Her performances were somewhat below par, although above the standard of the average athlete. I have no doubt, however, that she can again bring us to our feet or hold us riveted in our seats before the television screens with superb feats of athleticism.
Fraser is only 16 years old and the road to international representation is not an easy one. It will require great sacrifice, intense training,proper diet, good financial support and overcoming many other hurdles. These are the usual challenges for athletes, but there is an unnecessary and easily surmountable obstacle which continues to obstruct the path of young Fraser.
Fraser is a permanent resident of this country. She speaks Bajan and received her primary and secondary education here. She has represented this country, causing its flag to be hoisted high above others and proudly stood on the podium in national colours to receive medals for outstanding performances. It is, therefore, beyond reason that she is still without a Barbados passport.
The rectification of this ridiculous situation does not require the passing of any legislation. My research has shown that it is a simple matter of cooperation between the authorities and whoever is legally responsible for the athlete.
Bickering and the refusal to compromise will only adversely affect this innocent pawn in an adult game of wills.
The absence of a passport means that Fraser is confined to representing Barbados within the region. Her training and achievements would, therefore, have been in vain should she qualify for the World Youth Games.
In some countries, the state, on recognising her talent, would have taken control and a passport would have been history. Our democratic status does not cater to such intervention hence one must wish for sound, practical reasoning to prevail in the interest of the athlete.
Fraser, like other young Barbadian athletes, is now in training. Her goal will almost certainly be that of winning more medals and bringing more glory to Barbados. I can think of no more fitting an inspiration than for her to be in possession of the well deserved, but elusive, passport to the wide world before the CARIFTA Games 2017.
– MCDONALD WOODROFFE