The National Olympic Committee (NOC) has been focusing on the establishment of community-based multisport clubs as an alternative to the multitudinous teams that exist in the country for relatively brief spells.
The existing norm in most sports practised nationally is for athletes to come together to form a team to participate in any competition that is pending.
A team is really transitory. There is no real substantive base since the players are merely interested in participating in a competition and band themselves together for this purpose.
Teams do not have constitutions and therefore no executive, per se. The strong-minded individual who calls the players together is usually the one with all of the clout in the team. He/she would determine most of the requirements – team uniforms, registration fees, potential sponsors and how funds to participate in the competition would be sourced.
What follows is that some commercial enterprise provides financial assistance to allow the team to acquire uniforms and the players themselves contribute to the funds required for the registration process.
The team leader then organises the requisite practise sessions and informs the players of the schedule of the competition. How the players get there is their own business. It is expected that attendance at the competitions in a timely manner translates into interest in and commitment to the team.
It is also true however that there are some sports that do not have teams and also lack clubs. Instead they are based on individual membership. These organisations deserve special attention and must also be addressed since they often lack sustainability.
Community-based multisport clubs
In contrast to teams, clubs are more substantive and sustainable because they are based on a constitution which serves as a guide to their mode of operation.
Clubs are often the next step in the progression of teams. Players feel the need to have a string organisation that guarantees stability and sustainability.
Clubs establish constitutions that are approved by their general membership. The document specifies in very clear, unambiguous terms, the basis for membership of the organisation and stipulates the way in which the organisation operates and determines the leadership/executive is elected and for how long.
The constitution also lays our very clear guidelines for retention of membership or loss of same and speaks to the disciplinary measures that can be invoked at any point in time against any member.
National sports associations are made up of clubs. In the more recent past the associations have allowed open membership to teams, clubs and individuals. This is something of an anomaly that is often not addressed by these institutions.
It is not possible to accord each of the following the same status within an association since they are really very different in nature.
Interestingly though national associations are most impacted upon by the category of membership that is most numerous in the organisation and this therefore determine sits longevity and effectiveness.
The new approach
A proposed new approach is to encourage each national association to move to ensuring that its membership is really made up of clubs. The proposal is that this membership be community-based multisport clubs.
The Vincentian economic reality suggests that it is not possible to find sponsors for the many teams that exist in the country.
It seems to make better sense for communities to band themselves together to form a multisport club that can engage the commercial enterprises in the area and beyond as well as individual donors, to make their existence sustainable.
So we can have a Layou community-based multisport club representing the area in different sport competitions held at the national level. Layou can have as many teams as possible compete at the local level where little financing is needed for the competitions that are used to select the community-based club in national competition.
Communities tend to support their teams. The more people in a community recognise that the club is representative of all of them the more likely are they to lend support. We have witnessed this for many years with regard to the Sion Hill football club and the representative teams from Barrouallie and Layou in national football competitions.
This affinity of the people of a community with the clubs that they deem representative of their hopes and aspirations is the primary source of motivation to succeed in their sporting endeavours.
Interestingly, over time the fortunes of the children of successive generations become associated with those of the representative community-based multisport club.
Indeed, the finest example of the kind of community support such clubs receive is Barcelona FC of the Spanish Football League. Barcelona represents the demands of the populace for their independence from Spain.
Team Athletics St Vincent and the Grenadines has been addressing the matter of zoning St Vincent and the Grenadines in an effort to facilitate the community-based multisport clubs and their involvement in the development of track and field as well as road running athletics in the State.
The idea is to create zones that at once accommodates several communities and by extension, community-based multisport clubs.
In each of the zones there would be a structured organisation of the TASVG that would facilitate the systematic development of the sport in accordance with the mandate of the parent body. There would be located at each zone enough equipment to ensure that the athletes can participate without prejudice in the various disciplines of the sport.
The idea is to locate facilities and equipment for the horizontal jumps, the throws, the high jump and the track competitions.
TASVG would also conduct courses to develop coaches from amongst the available and interested persons in each zone, breaking the dependence on coaches who are prepared to operate in the Kingstown/Arnos Vale area. These coaching programmes would begin with the Caribbean Coaching Certification Programme (CCCP) then the various IAAF Coaching Education Certification Courses (CECS).
Additionally, TASVG will also conduct the IAAF Technical Officials Certification Courses (TOECS) so that each zone would have a cadre of technical officials adequately equipped with the skill competencies to facilitate proper organisation and administration of competitions at the zonal level.
Finally, the TASVG will conduct courses for the administrators of the sport at the community-based multisport level so that the athletics component is fully appreciated and plays its role in the broader development process.
The project being undertaken by TASVG can be used by several other associations, all of which can work together to facilitate the development of community-based multisport clubs in the different zones.
Each association can ensure that it offers a stock of equipment that would reside in each of the zones, making it easier for training and competitions at the zonal level.
If each of the interested associations decides to work with the same zones then it would be possible for the Area Sport Committees of the National Sports Council to emerge with membership that includes representatives from these sporting bodies.
The ASC can at once plan an annual calendar of activities such that clashes in the respective sports are avoided and that each zone becomes self-sufficient in respect of facilities, equipment and resource persons in the fields of coaching, officiating and administration. for the involved sports.