2010 – A year of mixed sporting fortunes

The year 2010 was truly one of missed fortunes for St Vincent and the Grenadines. Nowhere was it more missed than in the approach undertaken by the government. The leadership of the country remained wavering in its commitment to sport.
For several months, seemingly more a part of his elections campaign that official government policy, Ces Mc Kie told the sportspeople of this country, ‘With Sports We Can’. By the time general elections came around there was only the usual wasteful and unplanned expenditures on completing hard courts, lighting others and tinkering with playing fields – nothing that substantively fits into any broader national sport development policy.
Following his success at the polls, McKie ended up being the Minister of Health and the Environment rather than sport in which he has been involved form most of his life. So much for his mantra, ‘With Sport We Can’.
The major legacy of the Cricket World Cup 2007 remains the unofficial ‘Olympic’ swimming pool inadvertently established at the Sion Hill Playing Field.
On the other hand the Ministry of Educations ended up with a National Schools Sports Policy that has already begun to impact the way things are done. The national sports associations have finally been given the recognition they deserve and are all involved in leading the respective sub committees for the sport competitions being held between the nation’s schools.
The nation’s most popular sport, Football, was easily the nation’s biggest disappointment. Vincy Heat, the national senior team flattered to deceive in the Digicel Caribbean Cup competition. In the process that team has seen its ranking surpassed by Grenada, St Lucia and even Dominica.
Coach Samuel Carrington has once more had his contract with the local Federation terminated. This followed the poor performance of the national team under his watch.
The Federation employed Ian Hypolite as its Executive Officer and has embarked on a new thrust towards the establishment of clubs and enhancing the capacities of their leadership.
As with so many other sports in the country Football suffers from poor facilities and their availability. However, the current plight that emerged during 2010 speaks to a crisis in the sport. Strong, competent coaching is urgently required and so too greater dynamism in the overall leadership of the sport.
The Tennis Association had the good fortune of being allocated a four-month programme from the National Olympic Committee (NOC) to assist with the Development of a National Sports Structure. The technical expert provided by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) was John Goede of Surinam.
The goal was stated in the project proposal as follows:
To create a national Tennis coaching structure to deliver all levels of developmental training, planning and coordination of Tennis programs, and assistance in the creation, implementation, and revision of a 5-year development plan. In addition, this structure should supplement training for intermediate to elite junior players to compete at the highest levels internationally.
Unfortunately there seems to have been much conflict within the Tennis fraternity such that Goede never really completed the project. He did not return for the fourth and final month citing difficulties in getting the support of the coaches. The NOC was forced to relinquish to Olympic Solidarity the funding for this final; component of the project and Tennis was the loser in the final analysis.
Throughout the year there remained tension between what appeared to be factions within the organisation.
The Grassroots Tennis Academy started at Richmond Hill has attracted significant numbers that could impact the sport positively in the future.
There must however be a meeting of minds within the fraternity sooner rather than later if the sport is to really progress.
In international competitions for the year Tennis did not fare well. The team to the CAC Games in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico in July saw no one getting beyond the first round either in the singles or the doubles competition.
The lone Tennis athlete at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi, India, failed to get past the first round.
Squash achieved a major milestone in hosting the Caribbean Squash Championships after hosting the OECS Junior Tennis Championships, all in 2010.
The events were a resounding success in terms of the local association’s capacity to host events of this type. All in attendance commented favourably on the organisational skills displayed and the nation would have benefitted to some extent from the regional publicity in this regard.
The local athletes did not perform as well as we would have expected however.
Cricket continues to be up and down in St Vincent and the Grenadines despite having ended the year victorious in the Windward Islands competition. This latter feat requires some commendation.
Cricket has the most facilities available to any sport in St Vincent and the Grenadines and it remains something of a mystery that we have not been able to produce quality players in sufficient numbers enough to have a greater and more sustainable presence on the West Indies Cricket teams.
Basketball continues to struggle in its development. The loss of Sancho Lyttle and Sophia Young negatively impacted the capacity of the Federation to do well at the regional and international levels.
The problem with the retention of both Lyttle and Young had to do with their perception of the chances of St Vincent and the Grenadines attaining international competitive status in their playing days. Lyttle therefore opted for Spanish citizenship while Young stayed with the USA.
Our Basketball women made it to the Centro Basket Tournament held in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico and the CAC Games at the same venue that followed.
In both competitions the women were thoroughly outclassed.
The team suffered from the absence of quality and experienced players reliant all too frequently on netballers who had not benefitted from adequate training in the sport.
Table Tennis
The Table Tennis fraternity has sought to make progress despite the all-too-frequent attempts at derailing this process by some who claim to love the sport.
The organisation has adopted a higher profile than hitherto while ensuring transparency in its operations.
During the course of 2010 the local Table Tennis Federation has been host to an intensive coaching course facilitated by the highly recognised International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) expert, Ahmed Dawlatly of Egypt.
The course produced a number of coaches from the community through to the national level and all are expected to be out to work in the field early in the new year.
Local Table Tennis Technical Director, Khalique Bailey, benefitted from an intensive six-week advanced coaching programme held in tandem by the United States Olympic Committee and Olympic Solidarity and accessed by the NOC.
The local Federation’s athletes had greater successes at the Commonwealth Games in India than was the case at the CAC Games in Puerto Rico, thereby ending the year on a relatively better note that at the beginning.
Boxing had several opportunities during the year. In the first instance one of its athletes was granted a place in the inaugural Youth Olympics. However failure of the athlete to participate in the training programme offered by the Association led to his withdrawal but too late for the NOC to access an alternate place for an athlete from any other sport on the team to the Games.
Keithland King, based in Barbados, showed enough talent in his lone bout in the competition at the CAC Games to be identified as possessive of what is required to go on to great things in the sport. He benefitted from a training stint in Puerto Rico facilitated by the NOC and the Puerto Rican Boxing Federation. Two other boxers were sent to Trinidad and Tobago for further training facilitated by the NOC and the Trinidad and Tobago Amateur Boxing Association.
King was the lead boxer of the sport’s squad to the Commonwealth Games and was the only one to get beyond the first round. Unfortunately he suffered from his inexperience in the second fight.
The Boxing Association here has been involved in the ongoing Grassroots Talent Identification Programme (GTIP) and may well
Taekwondo benefitted from a place – the lone female – on the team to the Youth Olympic Games in Singapore.
Dasreen Primus was sent to competitions in Toronto, Canada and Grenada prior to travelling to Singapore.
At the Youth Olympics however, she was fortunate enough to get a bye in the first round of the competition but was injured in her first fight which came in the second round and was unable to take any further part.
Track and Field continues to suffer from the chronic lack of adequate facilities for the proper and systematic development of the sport in St Vincent and the Grenadines.
Despite the best efforts of the Technical Director, Gideon Labban, our coaches continue to take their certificates more importantly than actually taking to the fields to coach out athletes.
18 new coaches were trained and certified International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) Level # 1, in August.
Rosmund Griffith and Rawlson Morgan benefitted from an IAAF development programme for the Kids in Athletics (KIA) held in San Juan, Puerto Rico, during the year and Leroy Llewellyn participated in a Course Measurement Course for road races in Trinidad and Tobago.
Gideon Labban conducted IAAF Coaching courses in Trinidad and Tobago and St Vincent and the Grenadines.
Medal hopeful, Adonson Shallow, surprisingly withdrew from the national team to the CAC Games opting instead for a Meet in the USA that he considered more important to his future in the sport.
At the Commonwealth Games in Delhi, India, Natasha Mayers achieved the historic feat of winning the nation’s first gold medal in track and field athletics and only the second gold for the country at this quadrennial event.
Mayers’ achievement was the highest performance by a Vincentian athlete anywhere in the world in 2010.
The year could easily have been better but the country does not yet have an appreciation for the role of sport in national development. This is the reason for the mixed performances by the athletes in the various sports during the year.
Until such time as our approach to sport development changes there is unlikely to be better results in regional and international competitions.