Lesson from the Jamaican season

February 13th, 2013

As I attended the Extraordinary Pan American Sport Organisation (PASO) General Assembly in Kingston, Jamaica, last week, the thought struck me that the one reason Jamaica does so well in a number of areas including music and sports is down to their sheer unadulterated patriotism, passion and self belief.

There are no grey areas or self doubt. You will not see a Jamaican wearing red, white and black for instance. At times it can rankle but they believe that they can be and are the best.

When the Prime Minister of Jamaica, Portia Simpson Miller opened the assembly—her unabashed joy at the fact that the night before the Reggae Boyz had held Mexico to a draw at the Azteca stadium, her conviction that brand Jamaica is in robust health—her intention was to ensure that there is no let up. Further, her acknowledgement that it is sport and music that drives brand Jamaica was clear for all to see and hear. Some call it arrogance, but Jamaicans are not part-timers.

Trinbagonians tend to be seasonal. There is Carnival season, cricket season, football season, wining season, silly season and political season, etc. With our Caribbean neighbours there is only one season and that is Jamaica season.

The seasonal mindset stymies self improvement and hampers our ambitions to be world class. There are far too many who are more than happy to be king and queen of the Trini hill.

Take sports as an example, the Jamaican Prime Minister walks her talk. There is no separate Ministry of Sport; sport is in the Office of the Prime Minister with a Minister of Sport in the Office of the Prime Minister.

That sport is important and central to Jamaica there can be no doubt.

At times it may seem to those looking on that we aren’t really serious about sporting excellence. That’s not to say that T&T would not like to be the best in class, but if it happens fine; if it doesn’t we make some noise but life goes on—Carnival soon come. On numerous occasions I have had Caribbean Olympic colleagues say to me “If we only had your resources. Boy! You are so lucky!“

Self improvement and striving for excellence requires 100 per cent dedication and commitment.

Sport is an unforgiving taskmaster with no guarantees. But, and here’s the rub: even with no guarantees you still must be prepared to give 100 per cent and more. No excuses.

I am not talking about window dressing but genuine attempts for betterment and a constant quest for improvement and also to make the point that money is not a cure all or the answer to every and anything.

If we want to be the best in sports we must acknowledge that we will come up against competitors who are hungry for success and not just happy to be there. It will require that we be honest and analytical and look not only around the world but closer to home in the Caribbean and the Americas. We must ask more of ourselves and each other. We must make changes before things start to decline, rather than when it is too late, the time to change is at the top of the curve. Doing the same thing repeatedly doesn’t get the same results.

What I’ve learnt in my near four decades of involvement in sport here in T&T is that you can “lead a horse to water but you can’t make them drink.”

There will always be challenges and obstacles but in the end you have to have the faith to go in a certain direction in the belief that there is nothing wrong with wanting to be the best.

I close with an observation made by a Jamaican colleague: “If we had invented the steel pan and Trini Carnival, boy it would have been acknowledged globally and be a main stay of our economy.”

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