Some very positive commendable signs in Vincentian sport

It has often been said that in sport the media if far too critical. However, few involved in sport seem to realise when the media play a role in facilitating the recognition and promotion of what is good and uplifting. This is to be expected since sporting organisations and individual athletes prefer only the good to be told and get very offensive once criticisms are levelled. They are therefore rarely satisfied with what the media do.
While there remains much that is going wrong in sport in St Vincent and the Grenadines there are some very commendable and positive features emerging and worthy of commendation.
Vincy Heat
It was more than a little unfortunate that Vincy Heat, our national Football, team, faltered at the very last hurdle in the twin-island Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, allowing themselves to be beaten by the team everyone else had demolished – Surinam.
Of course, had the players and team management been sufficiently aware of the history between these two teams they would never have permitted the Surinamese to be victorious.
Despite the loss in that final game, however, credit must be given to all responsible for the team’s preparation and performance in the competition. It signalled a resurgence in our fortunes and an opportunity to climb the ranking of FIFA.
The Football Federation must now work towards building the future.
Football coaching
During the period 19 – 23 November 2012 the St Vincent and the Grenadines Football Federation received an Olympic Solidarity-FIFA Level#2 Coaches Certification Course from the National Olympic Committee (NOC), under the leadership of FIFA Instructor, Anton Corneal.
The course was remarkable in many ways, but none more than the fact that Corneal commended the local Federation and the participants for what was easily the best organised course in all aspects that he has ever been party to. According to Corneal, all aspects of this course were absolutely amazing.
Corneal noted that at no point during the course did the participants take anything for granted. Attendance was remarkable with the participants being on time each of the fove days of the programme and their enthusiasm never failed. This prompted Corneal to remark, I have never seen a group of participants as consistent with time as I have experienced with this course and I am not just speaking about the Caribbean.
It is not usual for us to have these kinds of accolades heaped on Vincentians generally, and far less on those associated with sport. This is a most welcome change and perhaps a fine example for the future.
It was also particularly good to see several former national players involving themselves in receiving training as coaches, eager to give something back to the sport. ‘Pete’ Morris, Dexter Walker and Christopher ‘Brazilian’ Harry stood out as former players with a passion for the sport, going through the paces during the course.
For the second time this year there has been collaboration with Grenada for an Olympic-Solidarity programme hosted in St Vincent and the Grenadines. In October St Vincent
and the Grenadines hosted an Olympic Solidarity programme on Olympic Values Education and a Grenadian participant was accommodated.
This time around Grenada was again facilitated with having a participant involve din the Football Coaches Certification Course.
On previous occasions the local Cycling Union has included participants from the OECS in some of its coaching programmes sponsored by Olympic Solidarity.
The Football Coaching Certification Course, valued at $8,000USD, was a fine example of what is possible in sport here in St Vincent and the Grenadines once we commit ourselves.
The trained coaches must now go out into the field and apply all that they have learnt. Indeed, this was the challenge given to them by Anton Corneal in his address during the Closing Ceremony on Friday last. He urged them to make full use of what they had learnt to help develop the sport across St Vincent and the Grenadines.
National Sport Structure – Swimming
The St Vincent and the Grenadines Amateur Swimming Association is coming to the end of a six-month course again offered by our National Olympic Committee and sponsored by Olympic Solidarity. The programme saw Dave Farmer of Barbados, involved in working with the Association in developing a national structure for the sport.
The Association has itself been recently re-organised and the NOC has been providing assistance in getting the programme and the organisation onto a sound footing.
Farmer has recognised that the fledgling organisation has much to learn in respect of establishing itself and has been asked to focus on facilitating this.
The Swimming programme offered by the NOC is valued at around $30,000USD and has allowed the Association to training its coaches in the Caribbean Coaching Certification Programme (CCCP) a product of the Caribbean Association of National Olympic Committees (CANOC).
The acquisition of the pool at Shrewsbury House has been a significant boon for the Association as it now allows the athletes to have their own home to practise as often as coaches deem fit.
There is already evidence that things are shaping up for swimming in St Vincent and the Grenadines with Shine and Nicholas Joachim leading the youngsters who are based in St Vincent and the Grenadines. There are however numerous others with immense potential who have been exposed to regional competition and who, with due commitment, will rise in the ranking.
Shrewsbury House is now very much a different place with increasing numbers taking on the challenge of learning to swim on the ne hand and developing their competition skills on the other.
Some schools have already begun encouraging their students to become involved in the association’s swimming programme. This augurs well for the future since the schools can act as a feed for clubs, facilitating sustainability.
A country completely surrounded by water as we are should have no problems producing quality swimmers.
Now that Open Water swimming is now on the international federation’s competition programme and this should serve as an incentive to those who cannot afford to use the pool or who have a desire for the sea. Dave Farmer, while here, attempted to involve the association in Open Water swimming as a viable option and one that can attract numerous participants.
It now seems particularly important that the Swimming Association engage itself in a grassroots talent identification programme of some sort that reaches out to those who may have an interest in the sport once it has been introduced to them in a systematic way.
Kids in Athletics
There has been keen interest now in the Kids In Athletics (KIA) programme of Team Athletics St Vincent and the Grenadines (TASVG).
Ian Sardine, usually associated with football, has been playing a major role in promoting renewed interest in the KIA programme. Apart from engaging in visits to schools and working with students and teachers he also convenes a weekly session for children in Kingstown at the Victoria Park on Saturday afternoons.
Chester Morgan conducts weekly sessions at the Layou Playing Field on Saturdays and additional sessions on Fridays. He has committed to doing work in Barrouallie to facilitate the generation of interest amongst the children there.
Three coaches – Gordon, Thomas and Constantine – will commence weekly sessions at the Sion Hill Playing Field to cater for the children in that part of the country.
Technical Director of TASVG, Rosmund Griffith, and Debbie Jordon, have responsibility for leading the programme from Colonarie through to Fancy. They have the support of Lawrence Arthur in this regard.
Yorke will coordinate a programme involving three coaches using the Campden Park as their base of operations.
Plans agreed to at a meeting of the coaches involved in the KIA programme at Arnos Vale on Saturday last aim to ensure that there is no part of St Vincent and the Grenadines not benefitting from this introductory component to track and field athletics.
Rawlson Morgan and Rosmund Griffith have national oversight for the KIA and have committed to ensuring that the Grenadines receive the same level of attention being plaid to St Vincent.
TASVG will host an Olympic Solidarity-sponsored Level #1 Coaches Certification Course of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) during the period 3 – 12 December 2012. Already the programme has been oversubscribed with 40 individuals expressing interest in becoming certified track and field KIA coaches.
Schools Sports Policy
The Ministry of Education’s Schools Games Committee has completed a Schools Sports Policy, which is in vogue. The document speaks to the framework within which sports in and between schools will take place.
The decision to have the representative of the national associations whose sports are played between schools chairing the respective Sub Committees is commendable and facilitates great collaboration between these national governing bodies for the different sports and the Ministry of Education through the Schools Games Committee.
There is little doubt that this approach will yield good results in the long term. As expected there will be teething problems but time, the great healer, will eventually ensure that with firm commitment on the part of all concerned we will see success.
There are obviously more things happening in sport despite the very harsh economic times. We have merely touched on a few here and will address others on another occasion.