Voluntarism and national sports organisations (Part I)

There are many in Vincentian society today who watch eagerly at what is happening in sporting organisations in the wider international community. They see the extent to which so many of the once amateur sporting organisations have shifted gear towards professional status. This fact must have implications for the way sport in St Vincent and the Grenadines undergoes change. In the next two editions of this column, I will focus attention on voluntarism in sporting organisations and give consideration to some important issues that arise and the range of options that confront those involved.

Sport Voluntarism in SVG – Historiography
While the British may well have introduced sports, the State, from the early days of occupation, seemed to have had an influence on the playing of sports in St Vincent.
Historical records suggest, for example, that Vincentians have been playing cricket since the last decade of the 19th Century. The formal establishment of national sports associations in St Vincent and the other colonies followed the British adjustments that were made in the aftermath of the Moyne Commission of the 1930s, as was the case with so many other social and political institutions at the time.
It may be important therefore to analyse the antecedents in voluntarism in sports dating back to 1950, by which time, many sporting disciplines would have already been introduced in St Vincent. 
It appears that during the period of the 1950s through to the 1980s, Vincentian sporting organisations displayed a very high level of voluntarism. This was reflected in the number of clubs that existed and the generous support they received within Vincentian society. Falcons, Roseans, Maple, Spartans, Pastures, Montrose and Saints were among the most prominent clubs in the society. Many clubs were multisport in orientation. They were led by volunteers who were keen on sports and who appeared to have an understanding of its importance to the development of the individual. Sport was fun, recreation while still being highly competitive. Sport was also amateur.
There was also evidence that the parents of the athletes supported the clubs of the period as also did the communities from which they came. It seemed that the players at the time were more family oriented, had a greater measure of respect for others, regardless of age or gender, and were more disciplined than the athletes of today. Thus it appears that people volunteered to be part of the club or sporting organisation because they felt quite comfortable with the participants and with each other.