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Good shepherds needed
What National Sport Organisations (NSOs) need are good shepherds, not good politicians. Good shepherds don’t flee for fear of wolves. Nor do they remain indifferent or take the easy way out. Politics should never come before friendship, country or the truth. Regardless of the outcome of an election, political rhetoric and acrimony must not overshadow nation building. Last Friday someone asked me: “Why do you feel you always have to defend Minister of Sport and Youth Affairs Anil Roberts?”
During a TV6 Sporting Edition programme, I had said that Minister Roberts is an excellent example of a local coach who dedicated his time and energy mastering the art and science of coaching and as a result succeeded at the highest level of sport—the Olympic Games. What is wrong with me saying that? I recall some years ago expressing grave concerns about the negative impact of the plan to take over the President’s Ground, St Ann’s and the removal of the Public Courts Tennis, basketball and netball courts to make way for NAPA.
The conclusion was that I was anti-Government. Two years ago when I was appointed by the previous Minister of Sport to serve as chairman of the T&T Boxing Board of Control it was another story. Is freedom of expression or association no longer a constitutional right enshrined in our Republican Constitution? Threats “to deal with or destroy” are seeds that are sown. It’s a short-sighted strategy as negativity will only breed more negativity. No good will come from such an attitude. Some sport organisations have been branded as either a PNM party group, UNC party group or COP party group. What dotishness is that? When did sport in T&T reach there? Two wrongs don’t make it right. When the bandit holds a gun to your head and is about to blow your brains out will he stop to ask: “excuse me before I kill you who did you vote for?”
There are long standing obstacles to sport’s well-being and development. While there has been progress in the organisation and administration of sport in the last 15 years, we are still a distance away from an environment in which T&T, whether urban or rural, disabled or not, young or old, male or female, can participate in sports either for fun, health, recreation or international success. There is much work still to be done. Why is the fear factor taking over? If it needs to be said, say it and if it needs to be done, do it. NSOs are facing an economic shipwreck; paralyzed by the dependency syndrome and in mortal fear of saying the wrong thing or offending someone. Voiceless and trembling—afraid of what or who God alone knows. Everyone seems to be seeing ghosts and hearing voices. Why are we demonising each other?
Sport in T&T is not limited to individual sports and the big two team sports—football and cricket. There are some who believe that team sports, considered minor sports, do not deserve the same consideration as the big two. Others believe that team sport considered grassroots sports should be a priority. Caught in the twilight zone are the team sports viewed as middle class sports. Why are NSOs fighting down each other in an effort to get a bigger slice of the pie? Last Wednesday at a memorial service in Arizona, US President Barack Obama called for a national discourse that heals not wounds. As one scribe wrote, Obama put himself in the place all presidents covet: above the fray, beyond mere Democrat or Republican. Ronald Reagan got there, but few others manage it. If the leaders in T&T sport could do likewise and put themselves above the fray, beyond, personal biases, grudges, likes and dislikes it would certainly redound to the the nation’s benefit.
Brian Lewis is Honorary Secretary General of the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee-www.ttoc.org. The views expressed are not necessarily those of the TTOC.
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