Bring on the Cuban coaches

The government has not yet provided us with any clear indication that it understands the fit between the development of sport in the country and the broader national development process.

Cuba’s internationalism

There is little doubt that over the decades of Castro’s rule in Cuba that country has displayed a very high level of internationalism, albeit not without its political agenda being ever present in the mix.

The economic fortunes of Cuba have long since been impacted negatively by the cruel blockade imposed since the early days of the revolution. In the past several years there is every reason for us to believe that Cuba’s internationalism is now a major economic undertaking as much as anything else. The distribution of personnel across the third world has facilitated significant inflows of much needed foreign exchange into the Cuban economy.

Sport has become one of the more important income earners for Cuba. Be that as it may, however, the Cubans have excelled in several sporting disciplines and this has been so even before the Castro regime seized power from the brutish Batista. Cuba has historically been particularly strong in boxing and baseball. Like the Americans Cubans see baseball as their national pastime.

Cuba has produced the greatest high jumper the world has seen in Javier Sotomayor and there are many who still claim that they would have relished a heavyweight clash between then Cassius Clay (now Mohammed Ali) and Teofilo Stephenson. The latter, of course, has roots in Biabou.

The Cubans have also risen to world titles in volleyball and cycling.

Cuba’s Institute of Sport and Recreation (INDER) specialises in producing quality coaches in the various sporting disciplines, thousands of whom have found their way in countries around the world as part of the country’s internationalist programme. Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, St Lucia and Trinidad and Tobago are among Caribbean countries that have entered into agreements with Cuban authorities to access coaches in several different sporting disciplines.