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EDITORIAL: The golden opportunities in sport


EDITORIAL: The golden opportunities in sport

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ENTREPRENEURSHIP has been the buzzword in recent times. It is seen as the road to opportunity in a tough economy where many of the traditional avenues for employment opportunities have dried up or been severely restricted.

So even as we move from a situation of significant changes with advances in technology and medical sciences to having an abundance of food and energy, there is the spectre of a jobless future.

The uncertainty about the future is worrisome.

Government can no longer be the employer of first resort as it was for many decades by creating, as former United States Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summer said, “enough work for all who need work for income, purchasing power and dignity”.

Hence, the plea for our school leavers, university graduates, those made redundant and indeed for most people in the job market to look for self-generated opportunities. The challenge is what to do.

This may be why the Freundel Stuart administration has placed emphasis on the cultural industries sector, which has the potential to generate jobs both direct and indirectly. Sport falls clearly within this category.

Barbados can no longer treat sporting activity as only a pastime. It is time for significant change, and it should begin with the approach of the sporting associations, which cannot continue to function today as they did decades ago – amateurish and often, as if it were, the fiefdom of a select few. Outside of horse racing and some aspects of cricket and football, we have not looked at sport as a business opportunity.

Too many of the sporting associations lack organisation and structure. They have no secretariat, no firm growth plans and no real vision of how to create opportunities for the excellent talent that needs to exploit the professional opportunities.

This is a golden opportunity for the National Sports Council, despite its financial challenges, to work with our sporting associations to help them make that transition from organisations dependent totally on the volunteerism of a few diehards to leagues with very clear goals.

The help should range from how to prepare business plans to the correct way to solicit and work with sponsors or to stage major events. The objective is to open business opportunities for the athletes, coaches, referees, trainers and all those along the supply chain.

We have already seen it with the Caribbean Premier League cricket tournament, which has been a stimulator of economic activity at the regional level in the traditional slow summer tourism season.

The David Thompson Memorial Constituency Councils Football Classic and the former LIME Pelican Challenge football competition have also shown what is possible in term of providing opportunities not only for the players, but for a number of micro enterprises. The Islands Cup Open 2017 should not be any different.

Sporting activity can bring enhanced economic opportunities and open the doors to academic opportunities. It isn’t a mere leisure activity anymore.