The time is now. The attitude and culture towards the role of sports in our society have to change. It's now or never!
The view that sports is just a pastime and mainly for "duncey people" who can't make it academically is still a glaring reality here in Trinidad and Tobago and there are way too many who also believe that sports is still something that happens when you can make the time.
Recently, I was looking back at columns appearing in the Trinidad Guardian since 2005 when Valentino Singh – the then sport editor, invited me to do a weekly column focusing on the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic and Commonwealth sport ecosystem.
I have done so faithfully over the past 18 years, pro bono - might I add. Life, here on the twin-island Republic gets in the way and while a few columns may have been missed for various reasons, I realised that 900-plus columns at an average of 620 words add up to a lot of words with many repetitive topics and themes.
Given that for the majority of persons who can change the perception of how sports and sports persons (government, business owners/sponsors) see sports as little more than recreational and leisure activity, the fact must be pressed home that in modern society, sports are big business and the complexities surrounding sports can no longer be viewed from just an amateur perspective.
The challenge is, how do we in Trinidad and Tobago adapt given that economic experts and policy-makers remain unconvinced that investment in sports is indeed viable and can become a sustainable industry given the size of the local market and keeping the fight going appears to be getting harder given the economic and social challenges facing the country.
It appears as though the ‘perceived’ important people in our society are not listening, not seeing or just don't care. They say sports are important but don't really mean it as for many of them it is temporary entertainment at a particular point in time - nothing more - nothing less.
On August 31, we celebrated our 61st anniversary of Independence and we are now preparing to observe another Republic Day on September 24, the date Parliament met for the first time under the new constitution, even though republican status was actually achieved on August 1, 1976.
As we commemorate this momentous day and the significance of our status as a Republic, it seems that self-doubt has crept back in and that our national psyche is buffeted by our economic and social issues.
The question is: What will it take to get us back on a positive trajectory?
Where are we going? Where are we heading? When will we walk the walk that is needed to pull our country and society out of the doldrums?
Do we keep looking at the positives in an effort to keep our spirits up?
What will it take to galvanise us into action? We cannot quit on ourselves and each other!
Sports and people involved in sports need respect. The value that sports can bring to the youth and young people needs to be acknowledged. The role sports can play in the battle to turn things around in this country cannot continue to be disregarded or ignored.
The perception of incompetence amongst sport administrators is just a convenient excuse for certain persons in society to not get more involved and I make that point because doubts of competency aren't limited to just sports as far as public sentiment goes, yet this doesn’t seem to be stopping participation in any other sector or industry.
So why then is this the justification for not lending more support for sporting organisations and athletes at all levels and to invalidate the contribution that sports can make to the national psyche?
Sports can and do make a positive difference. Please provide the respect, recognition and reward that’s due!
Editor’s Note: The views expressed by the writer aren’t necessarily those of any organisation that he may be associated with.