There is now greater interest in sports management around the world. The sports industry has taken off and there is great need for us in the Caribbean and especially here in St Vincent and the Grenadines to get on board as quickly as possible.
National sports associations within the Caribbean region are no different from their counterparts in the rest of the world in respect of the need for training to allow for a fully professional approach to their administration.
Thus far the approach to facilitating improved administration of national sports associations in the Caribbean has been at best sketchy. There has been a sort of hit or miss approach.
Most associations concentrate their efforts on preparing athletes and coaches. To a lesser extent they train officials. It is often assumed that the administrators know what they are doing. This fallacy has been to the detriment of our national sports associations and the broader national sports development process.
Different International Federations (IF) have adopted their own development strategies and have crafted and offered varying courses, seminars and conferences aimed at enhancing the administrative capabilities of their affiliates.
PE in SVG
It has taken the authorities in St Vincent and the Grenadines a very long time before recognising the importance of physical education to the development of the student. Successive governmental leaders have failed to understand the role of physical education and sport in the shaping of the individual citizen. Old school for the most part, successive leaders saw these twin disciplines as frivolity, a waste of time and valued resources and have failed Vincentian society in this regard and as a consequence have set us back decades behind our Caribbean counterparts.
Early Vincentian Physical Education graduates were not well recognised by the governmental authorities and found themselves being responsible for ‘games’ rather than physical education. Sine the Ministry of Education wanted the annual schools’ competitions in sports to continue the PE teachers focused on the selection of teams to compete. This meant that no attention was really paid to the systematic introduction of the children to physical education. Consequently the majority of students did not garner any interest in sport since they knew nothing about the fundamentals of coordination in a proper manner.
The students who made school teams were those who had some talent or who had been encouraged and introduced to some fundamentals by their parents or other family members.
Within each school the ‘games teachers’ were expected to organise sports in addition to prepare teams to contest national inter schools’ competitions. They were not trained for this task but were expected to perform them well and to somehow encourage their fellow teachers to assist where and when necessary.
There was not a sense that sports required management. The success of the organisation of sports events within and between schools relied heavily on the capacity of the individual ‘games teacher’, his/her ability to get the support of other staff as well as the interest and leadership capabilities of the principal of the institution.
In the recent past the PE teachers of the secondary schools have established the Physical Education and Sports Teachers Association (PESTA). This organisation however does not include in its remit the ongoing analysis of and procurement of training for its members in the important area of administration. This leaves a dangerous gap in the broader national sports administration arena.
In the recent past a few individuals from St Vincent and the Grenadines have pursued training in Sports Management. Of these, only one appears to be functioning in an area that utilises the training and attendant competencies – Nelson Hillocks, the Director of Physical Education and Sports in the Ministry responsible for sport.
Essentially therefore the business of sports administration/management has received no attention from the governmental authorities.
The Division of Sports however does not have a comprehensive strategy and plan for the enhancement of the administrative/managerial capabilities of those involved at the leadership level in national sports associations. Instead the focus appears to have been directed at preparing for the various competitions within and between the schools of the nation. In the area of the secondary schools the Division of Sports therefore may well appear to be engaged in activities that requires close collaboration and coordination with PESTA and the relevant authorities within the Ministry of Education.
The seeming variance between the Ministry of Education and the Ministry responsible for sport does not augur well for the advancement of the sport development process in any significant way and proves a major distraction.
Over the years, it is the National Olympic Committee that has undertaken the responsibility for coordination and delivering programmes in sports administration in St Vincent and the Grenadines.
The affiliates of the various national sports associations in St Vincent and the Grenadines are for the most part led by former players who have had little or no training in sports administration. They have an interest in the survival of the respective sports in which they were once involved as players and so work on this without the benefit of training.
A quick review of the training opportunities offered to the leaders of teams and clubs as well as those responsible for sports in schools reflects much that should concern us. The emphasis of many who attend the courses appears to be on the garnering of whatever uniforms and gear are available to participants and the attainment of a certificate that allows one to boast of having completed another course in sports.
Precious little attention is paid to engaging in practicals following the completion of the courses.
Courses in sports administration are the least likely to attract participants. Teams and clubs seem unable to find individuals amongst their leadership with an interesting sports administration. Instead they are keener on attending technical courses for coaches and competition officials. The same holds for the national sports associations.
National sports associations are made up of their affiliates. If the affiliates are not led by individuals trained in sports administration the basis on which they select leaders at the level of the national sports associations would certainly not be based on sports management/administration capabilities but rather on a range of other factors, none of which may necessarily facilitate the most competent administration of the organisation and the sport in which it is engaged.
What we have therefore is a multiplier effect. The leadership of national sports associations often seem far to busy to engage themselves in administrative/managerial training in the field of sport.
Where some of the leaders of national sports associations are themselves professionals in one field or another they are even less likely to regard it as necessary to be trained in sports management.
The field of sports management is growing by leaps and bounds and where the Caribbean fails to taken on board the available training options the result is decadence. The West Indies Cricket Board may well serve as a very good example of what happens at the regional level where failure to engage in training in sports administration has led to one crisis after another. Whether it is at the level of team management through to the management of the governing bodies at the local level to the WICB itself it is all the same. The evidence is there to show the complete variance between what obtains and what ought to be had the leaders been appropriately trained in sports administration.
There are numerous training options now available for those interested in sports management. It seems appropriate at this time to encourage all involved at the sports leadership level, whether at the school, the team/club, the national association and the regional governing bodies, to avail themselves at the earliest opportunity to participate in and excel at sports management programmes.
Our leaders have to allow themselves to be trained. This is the only way in which they can garner the requisite expertise. They must make the time to be appropriately trained.
As it is with all other professions one must engage in ongoing education of oneself in the field of sports management of one is to be truly competent. Sports management is an evolving area in the broader field of sport. New information is constantly being made available as a result of ongoing research and development in the field.
We cannot continue to assume that leaders are born and that those who are elected to office in sporting organisations are capable of successfully meeting the challenges that confront them merely because they have been elected.
Olympic Solidarity has designed Sport Management Courses to develop the human resources and management of the NOCs and their national affiliates. These courses can be tailored to meet the needs of these national associations in presenting managerial tactics.
Over the years of membership of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) the NOC here has been accessing sports management courses and can attest to the fact that there are declining numbers in respect of participants. Many seem to think that they already know what is required of them as leaders and make no time to attend.
It is important that we begin now to take a new approach to sports management in St Vincent and the Grenadines.
The approach proposed here is a harmonious one that could, over time, prove useful to the broader objective of ensuring that sport plays a major role in the development process within Caricom member countries and amongst the collective that is the Caribbean.
We have first to recognise that we do not know and begin the process of accessing the knowledge through increased reading and accessing available courses.