Voluntarism and national sports organisations (Part I)
For them, volunteering in sport was integral to enhancing the community as an extension of the family.
Vincentian society was not very economically developed during the period and money was a scarce commodity. Traditional values characterised the society and a strong sense of community ensured the survival of all as critical to the broader national development process. With fewer distractions at the time, sports participation became a vehicle for community togetherness and, by extension, national development.
Volunteering to work with sporting organisations at whatever level meant that one was consciously making an important contribution to the general well being of Vincentian society. In some cases, entire families volunteered to work with sporting organisations. Parents wanted their children to play sports and so they became involved in the work of the organisation as a means of encouragement and broad support for their children and the entire community.
Traditional values and beliefs led to the man being seen as the head of the household and the chief, if not the only, breadwinner. The woman was perceived as the mother who had the responsibility for maintenance of the home in so far as childrearing and domestic activities were concerned. Her responsibilities included being the primary socialising agent in the home except where discipline mattered. Thus it was that women volunteered alongside their men to work in sporting organisations, fully cognizant of the fact that the society was at a stage of development that left them shying away from the top leadership positions in these bodies except in cases where the sport involved women only such as netball.
Interestingly, women always outnumbered their male counterparts in the world of voluntarism in St Vincent and the Grenadines.
Traditional Vincentian society appeared to have had an almost seamless thread that linked the family to the school, to the church and to the playing field. Teachers had the respect of every student and stood in for the parents while the students were under their charge. As the teachers encouraged the students to engage in sports for their well being the parents gave yeoman support in every respect. Parents went to see their children engage in sporting activities and brought with them their own valued skills in one area or another as volunteers to the school.
The teachers were themselves among the leadership of sporting organisations as a seemingly logical outgrowth of their status within the community and the school. The traditional value system had the teachers highly ranked and parents gave them authority over their children and, in many cases, over themselves. Teachers were therefore seen as ideal leaders among volunteers given their education and the role of education in a society that was still scarred by a high level of functional illiteracy.
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