The NOC and the Development of Sport
Since gaining affiliate status with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) the National Olympic Committee (NOC) of St Vincent and the Grenadines has been consistent in its efforts at facilitating the emergence of a truly national sports culture through its commitment to genuine sports development in this country.
The Olympic Charter of the IOC guides the NOC. The Olympic Charter states:
The practice of sport is a human right. Every individual must have the possibility of practicing sport, without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play. The organisation, administration and management of sport must be controlled by independent sports organisations.
The Olympic Charter also states, The mission of the NOCs is to develop, promote and protect the Olympic Movement in their respective countries, in accordance with the Olympic Charter.
The NOC here has, over the years, sought to promote sport through the various national sports associations among its membership. The work of the organisation focuses on four broad categories: athletes, coaches, administrators and the promotion of the Olympic values.
The St Vincent and the Grenadines NOC has been spending an annual sum of $25,000 USD on an innovative programme called, Grassroots Talent Identification (GTIP). Under this programme the different associations affiliated to the organisation each identify a Technical Director. The NOC then appoints an overall Technical Coordinator, who facilitates monthly meetings to plan, administer, monitor and evaluate the GTIP. Each Technical Director nominates coaches from his/her association who are expected to engage in the conduct of weekly sessions across the country, particularly on Saturday mornings, for which they are paid a stipend. Currently involved in the GTIP are Athletics, Basketball, Boxing, Cycling, Table Tennis, Taekwondo and Volleyball.
Pan Am and Olympic Games preparation
In the Olympic Movement the athletes are the most important component. Without athletes there can be no sports and no Olympic Games.
The NOC has also been able to access monies on an annual basis for the preparation of athletes for the Olympic Games and the Pan American Games respectively.
In the recent past the Pan Am Games has acquired some excess funds from the sale of Marketing and Television rights, first for the editions held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 2007 and again for the edition scheduled for Guadalajara, Mexico, in 2011. The President of the Pan American Sports Organisation (PASO), Mario Vazquex Rana, has unilaterally dedicated, first $100,000 USD for the preparation for Pan American Games 2011 and the Olympic Games, London 2012. Last month, Rana promised another $100,000 for the same two events, in what appears to have been a show of gratitude for the vote in support for his Constitutional change that gave NOCs that hosted the Pan Am Games as many votes as they have hosted the Pan Am Games up to a maximum of four votes – something our NOC pronounced as grossly and crassly undemocratic and a dangerous precedent.
The aforementioned monies have already facilitated the participation of Rugby, Cycling, Boxing, Squash and Volleyball in regional competitions that each has identified as part of their respective preparatory programmes and in some cases qualifications for the Pan Am Games 2011 and the Olympic Games of 2012.
Scholarships for athletes
It should be noted that the funds cannot be used for the procurement of uniforms, equipment or airfares to the two Games.
As has become the norm, effective August 2010, the NOC can begin nomination of athletes for scholarships for the London Olympics 2012, which are tenable from 1st January 2011 and run through to one month prior to the event. These athletes are nominated by their respective associations but it is their respective international federations (IF) and Olympic Solidarity that will make a determination of the development of the athletes and their chances of making the established Olympic standards with the proposed training and in the time allocated for the training at home or abroad.
The NOC also accesses funding for coaches, the second most important component of the Olympic Movement.
The NOC here has long since been accessing training opportunities for coaches. Each quadrennial sees this country offering a total of 10 technical courses for coaches each valued at $8,000 USD. This is used to facilitate the training of coaches in the various sporting disciplines. Unfortunately despite having trained hundreds of coaches many have taken the certificates for embellishing their walls at home and enhancing their respective CVs than taking to the field to engage in the practise of their skills.
Scholarships for coaches
A second programme allows the NOC to access scholarships for coaches to engage in training abroad. Each year several coaches have been sent to different countries in the Americas for advanced training while in the recent past the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) has partnered with Olympic Solidarity to organise an innovative advanced long-term training programme for coaches.
National sport structure
Another avenue for coaches embraced by the NOC here is the Olympic Solidarity Programme that allows an international expert to be brought to the country for an extended period, four to six months, to develop a national sports structure. John Goede is currently nearing the completion of such a programme in Tennis and for which $25,000 USD has been allocated. Athletics, Basketball, Table Tennis and Volleyball have already benefitted from such courses. Unfortunately, only sports on the Olympic programme can access this particular project.
The NOC also offers programmes for administrators. In the past the IOC did not pay as much attention to administrators as it did to athletes and coaches. However, experience has shown that failure to train administrators of sport could easily lead to the collapse of the broader sport development in many countries across the globe.
Each year the NOC organises a number of Sport Administration courses often called Itinerant Schools. Each affiliate is asked to nominate participants to attend these courses. The courses have been developed over time to facilitate the development of sport leaders around the world and there is often a mix of local and regional expertise in terms of Olympic Solidarity approved course conductors.
Here again the NOC has trained hundreds of persons in sport administration. Executive members of affiliates have been amongst the first to receive such training.
In the more recent past the NOC has accessed training in what Olympic Solidarity calls the Advanced Sports Management Course (ASMC). This latter programme is actually based heavily on the post-graduate degree offered by the University of Lyon, France, and for which Olympic Solidarity provides majority funding.
The ASMC will be offered here beginning in September 2010.
The NOC also provides programmes under what Olympic Solidarity refers to as Olympic Values. The National Olympic Academy, the educational arm of the NOC, undertakes the work.
Over the years the NOA has ensured that Olympism has become a household word in the country and that the affiliates do more to facilitate the holistic development of the athletes in their charge
Women in Sport
North Windward has benefitted from the Women in Sport Programme under the leadership of Patricia Fraser. Some $15,000 USD has been utilised in the project where girls and women have been the focus of attention, encouraging them to become more involved in sport. On Saturday 29th May there was a Women’s Sports Day at the London Playing Field where the work of the Women in Sport Commission displayed their achievements thus far.
Sport and the Environment
Nigel Weekes heads the Sport and the Environment Commission that has accessed $15,000 UD in project funding. The programme has impacted the Chateaubelair Methodist Primary, the Petit Bordel Secondary, the Central Leeward Secondary and the George Stephens Senior Secondary schools positively.
Billboards have been erected at Arnos Vale 1 and 2, and the Keartons Playing Field promoting Sport and the Environment. Seminars have been held in Barrouallie, Union Island and Sandy Bay, promoting the relationship between sport and the environment.
Culture and Education
A series of workshops have been conducted under the Culture and Education Programme of the NOC. Mini sports exhibitions have become a feature of the work of the NOA. The Radio Programme has been ongoing for several years and continues to positively impact the children and youths of this nation.
Work has begun on the production of DVDs and booklets on outstanding sports personalities of St Vincent and the Grenadines.
DVDs have already been produced on F.O. Mason, Victor Peters, Orde Ballantyne, Gloria Ballantyne MBE and Gideon Labban. Several others have been earmarked for the ongoing work in this regard.
The National Olympic Committee continues to do a tremendous amount of work in the development of sport and a national sport culture in St Vincent and the Grenadines.
While not involving itself necessarily in the development of sport infrastructure the NOC nonetheless is the single largest contributor to the enhancement of the personnel involved in sports in this country on an annual basis.