Amazingly, despite athletes attending the Carifta Games or following its results year after year, not many of our athletes seem to grasp the magnitude of the event or the extremely high level of the competition. This should not be the case since the performances are readily available at a number of major athletics sites.
Some athletes run scared once they get to the Games and see the preparation level of those with whom they have to compete. They tend to recognise very early on arrival in the host country the very focused nature of the athletes from the countries that have been among the region’s top performers.
There is an urgent need for a competent sports psychologist to work with athletes in St Vincent and the Grenadines. This is an area of sports development that is significantly underplayed in this country. Too many individuals seem to think that sport psychology is all ‘mumbo jumbo’.
Our athletes are coming from several different types of social and economic backgrounds. Many have not been appropriately exposed to be able to cope with the sporting environment that they meet at the Carifta Games. For some athletes the Carifta stage with over 8000 spectators is the largest they would have encountered and they are unable to cope.
When this year’s Carifta Games team was announced it was most pleasing to see the support given to some of the athletes by their parents. This augurs well for the future.
Athletes and coaches like to know that the athletes have the full support of their parents. Parents who take keen interest in their children’s involvement in sport are more likely to encourage them and to assist them in achieving an appropriate balance between their academic work and sporting pursuits.
An important part of the preparation of any athlete is the full involvement of those who look after t
hem on a daily basis. This serves as an important source of motivation to these children.
The athletes who make the Carifta Games national representative team are students. They come from schools where it is important for the principal, staff and fellow students provide yeoman support.
Here in St Vincent and the Grenadines it is important that students receive encouragement in both their studies and sporting activities. This is particularly important if they are to move on to higher levels of achievement in sport.
We tend to grossly underestimate the impact of this level of support. Schools have a major role to play in the development of their students and must assist in the identification of career options beyond the school years. Athletics offers many opportunities for the future of the students in our nation’s schools.
St Vincent and the Grenadines does not yet have a synthetic track and from the recent pronouncements of the nation’s Prime Minister who is also the Minister of Finance, we may not see a national stadium any time soon.
We must therefore give more consideration to the distance running and field events which do not necessarily require synthetic surfaces.
Due consideration must be given to making the Track and Field Coaches Commission of the TASVG work to harmonise the coaching efforts of those who have been trained in the sport.
Athletics could go very far in this country but there must be all hands on deck.
As a nation we must do much more to develop track and field athletics. Carifta Games is the regional cradle of this sport.