Inter Financial sports and St Vincent and the Grenadines

On Saturday 15 May 2010, some of this country’s financial institutions came together at the Arnos Vale Sports Complex to participate in what was the 10th anniversary of the Inter Financial Institutions Sports Meet.
The activity was as exciting as has become the norm with the participants from the various institutions competing diligently yet in a fun-filled atmosphere for bragging rights.
The initial objective of the annual event was to provide an opportunity for the management and staff of the financial institutions to share some time with each other while engaging in sporting activity. It was an attempt to provide an opportunity for them to relax, forget the stress and challenges of work as well as the hierarchy within the institution. At the sports meet each institution is united in a common objective in which there are no bosses and no bureaucracy impinging on how things are to be done.
Team Athletics St Vincent and the Grenadines (TASVG), the founders of the annual sports meet, considered the values attendant to sport – camaraderie, sharing, caring, unity, peace and understanding in the midst of diversity, discipline – would bring immense benefits to the various financial institutions which, under normal circumstances, often appear all too restricted to themselves in the Vincentian community.
TASVG was also aware that several of the financial institutions have attempted to engage in some sort of activity through their respective social and or sports clubs that had as their ultimate objective the tightening of the bonds of the management and staff in a way that would harmonise their working relationships collectively for the benefit of the organisation.
The athletics body was also very much aware that several years ago, the bank that is now RBTT, was invited to Trinidad and Tobago to participate in an annual track and field competition and family day hosted by the parent company. It was this legacy that the TASVG utilised to facilitate early discussion with the various financial institutions in St Vincent and the Grenadines to get the annual event going here.
Initially the TASVG engaged RBTT in a one on one discussion on project. The response was most positive and together they collaborated to get the other financial institutions involved. The inaugural event was called, Inter Bank Sports, since it only featured banks.
Soon however the idea was mooted that there should be a broadening of the event to other financial institutions or to institutions engaged in the financial sector of the Vincentian economy. This resulted in the name change to Inter Financial Institutions Sports.
The annual Inter Financial Institutions Sports is an event that involves all of the participating organisations. There is a planning committee that consists of a representative of each of the financial institutions involved. It is this organisation that agrees on the appropriate date for the competition and requests of the TASVG a programme of events that is acceptable to their respective institutions.
The TASVG is charged with the responsibility, not only of developing the programme, but also of ensuring that all technical aspects of the competition are adequately catered for – the procurement and in some instances production of equipment, the rental and parking of the field, the identification and preparation of officials and the organisation of the actual competition on the day.
Over the years the TASVG officials have prepared a competition package that is an interesting mix of traditional track events and activities that are also traditional but are associated with games – banana races, sack races, plank races, potato races and three-legged races. The day would usually end with the Tug-O-War where each team was allowed eight members comprising of four females and four males.
The planning committee also requests of the TASVG an appropriate poster which can be displayed at their various institutions and the broader general promotion of the event in St Vincent and the Grenadines.
The success of the event depends very much on the capacity of the planning committee to facilitate the successful promotion of the event within their respective institutions and across St Vincent and the Grenadines.
The event begins with a March Pass of teams vying for honours in this the first official activity for which awards are offered. Each team strives to ensure that there is a banner and that all members are uniform and have at least attempted to march in unison. Winning the March Pass allows the fortunate institution to enthusiastically enjoy bragging rights. This often lasts for the full year before the next edition of the event.
The initial years of the annual Inter Financial Institutions Sports attracted all the banks with the exception of the Co-op Bank and Building and Loan. The management and staff showed much enthusiasm and the competition was full of fun and excitement. The institutions each worked diligently to bring out staff, who readily ensured that as a day out they would be well equipped with food and drinks. Each of the institutions therefore occupied an area at the sports arena where they could set themselves sup in such a way as to at one and the same time have easy access to the competition and the food and drinks they brought with them.
The presence of intense rivalry has always been evident in the annual competition.
Rain has not been able to stop the competition once it gets started and the conviviality has become infectious.
The planning committee took the decision some years ago to include the participation of their children in the competition but did not want them to be included in the overall standings and hence no points were allocated to the institutions at which their parents worked. This was met with great enthusiasm by all the parents.
The addition of the children has significantly increased participation by financial institutions. The children themselves have been quite enthusiastic and their participation so impressive that the organisers have had to include events for children under the age of five through to 13 years. Parents crowd the arena and line the course of the events in which their children participate eagerly urging them on. Not surprisingly the children return the favour to their parents and the financial institutions they represent. Over the years the institutions have increasingly allowed their children to wear the colours of their institutions. The sense of identification seems to be done with much pride.
It took a while but eventually the planning committee was able to encourage management of the respective institutions participating to compete. There has been the inclusion of an event for managers of the institutions that has met with relative success. The adage of leading by example seems to have resonated for the good of the event.
This year’s edition of the Inter Financial Institutions Sports saw the largest number of participating teams – seven. This was all the more significant since it was the 10th anniversary of the event. Because of the unavailability of the Victoria Park the competition was scheduled for a 1:30pm start instead of the usual 3:30pm leading into the evening where lights were used.
The sports meet attracted a number of participants and scores of supporters amongst whom were friends and family and a few clients of the various institutions. As expected the participating teams each had their own cheering sections, which allowed for a wonderful afternoon of fun-filled athletics competition.
Given the impressive and vocal crowd on hand and with the decision to use only the Michael Findlay and P H Veira pavilions the TASVG reversed the track such that the all events finished in front of these the crowd in the aforementioned stands. This meant that everyone was able to see the athletes approaching and passing by the finish line and enjoy the excitement. Many enthusiastic athletes and supporters lined the 100m straight, especially when it was theturn of the children to compete.
For much of the early morning there was heavy rain and even as the sun came through it still seemed that rain was a possibility. The sports began with the March Pass and the rest of the events cam in quick succession. The increased number of participants led the organisers to agree to two segments for each event that was not an open one. This therefore led to a longer than expected afternoon.
With no lights and the ever-present threat of rain it was always a possibility that the competition could be cut short. This eventually occurred when a heavy downpour lasted much too long.
Surprisingly, the afternoon’s competition was conducted in such a festive and truly entertaining atmosphere that following the heavy rains the participants insisted that even though the place looked bleak and the track was damp, they would nonetheless insist on the running of the relays.
The future
Saturday 15 May will long be remembered for the tremendous fun that everyone had at Arnos Vale whether as competitor, organiser, supporter, technical official or supporter. All welcomed the atmosphere generated even as it was of their own making.
For the past year there has been talk of expanding the annual event to include some additional sporting activities since members of the institutions may well be given to strengths in one activity over another and it may give a better opportunity for the competition to have more to and fro in the determination of the final winner. That proposal will no doubt receive further consideration in the coming period. The overriding importance will continue to be the extent to which the various financial institutions come to an understanding of the important role that the event plays in their lives as individuals who work in the same sector but who usually find little time to engage in fun-filled yet sporting activities together in an atmosphere of genuinely friendly competition.
Other sporting bodies have attempted the organisation of sporting activities amongst different institutions in the country but, for one reason or another, these have petered out. One hopes that the first 10 years of the annual Inter Financial Institutions Sports can serve as an impetus for its own continued growth into a genuinely family day where significant numbers of clients would relish the opportunity to join the management and staff on the occasion.
One would also hope that the continuance of the annual event will impact other associations to work with different institutions to aid in their use of sport as a means of facilitating better acknowledgement of the importance of sport to their own well being, the harmony within their and between their respective institutions and ultimately to the broader Vincentian society.