There are few Vincentians who ever knew that such an organisation as the Sports Advisory Committee existed and fewer still knew what it was intended to do. The vast majority of Vincentians, including government Ministers and officials have never known anything by way of achievements that can be attributed to the Sports Advisory Committee. Just as it was created so it died. Few went into mourning following its cessation.
We were then told that Minister Burgin would have responsibility for sport in the Ministry he shared with Browne – the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport. Here again there were no changes to the norm. It was business as usual with no forward movement.Indeed when the mantle of leadership of the ministerial portfolio was handed over to Glen Beache, there had been no positive impact on sports development in the country by the Ministry charged with that responsibility.
Under Beache we heard of Fitness in the Park, an initiative that has proven stillborn. We also saw the significan
t increase in the number of sportspersons brought into the Division of Sports to work under the YES Programme of the government. The only problem was that these persons were not trained and hence the problems experienced as they entered the schools to work with students forced the Ministry of Education to call for an end to the practice.
Before Beache could have gotten his feet sufficiently wet in the portfolio it was announced that it was handed back to Mike Browne, the former sportsman.
In a very real sense the government by its own performance has displayed a flagrant disregard for sport. The provision of a playing field here or there based largely on political vote getting is not helping the development of sport. The provision of some funds for this or that sporting organisation, again based on political considerations, does nothing to help develop sports in the country.
The circuitous routing that has to be followed by every sports association seeking support by way of funds from the government remains largely facetious. No one could explain or thought necessary to even attempt an explanation for the disgusting situation that occurred in 2006. The Ministry of Finance by letter wrote the National Olympic Committee expressing disappointment at being unable to assist with funding of the national representative team to the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, Australia. Netball was part of that team. The government’s letter explained that all of its funds for sports had been diverted to the Cricket World Cup preparatory exercise here and the hosting of the actual warm up matches. Yet, when the team was due to travel Netball was given $40,000 by the same government.
The point is that in the absence of any clear policy the government of the day could only succeed in frustrating the national sports associations along the way. No association can be in a position to determine whether or not it will receive funds as requested from the government directly. Additionally, even requests to the National Lotteries Authority (NLA) which associations are told must be routed through the NSC are not sure to yield anything. Often times the very NSC that receives the submission cannot explain the criteria to be used by the NLA in determining the quantum to be granted to the different associations. It does appear that the NSC is not consulted by the NLA after the submission has been made. Routing the requests for funding through the NSC is therefore a grandiose waste of time and energy. It is superfluous.
The NLA offers no explanation to any association as to what criteria were used in arriving at the decision on how much funds to release at any given point. Its decision is final and sports associations have to live with that.