Sportlight, Sports

Sports not being treated with the priority it deserves, which is why:

We need a Revolution!

Image of Anthony De Beauville
By Anthony De Beauville

NO better way to start but by speaking the truth. The point is, we are going downhill and it is sad. It’s not a requiem; but who really cares about sports in Saint Lucia?

Apart from a handful of individuals who have remained involved, steadfast and focus, the majority just don’t care anymore.

You see it every day. This supposed love is treated like dirt from top to bottom.

From my vantage point — and standing on the outside — very little is done for sports in Fair Helen.

Right now, our government — and I say “Our” because I am Saint Lucian — has what it considers more pressing issues to deal with, such as housing, security, education, road maintenance, the DSH Project, the homicide rate (which now stands at 15 and will definitely not end there), the St. Jude Hospital and George Odlum Stadium saga; and to round-off the tip of the iceberg, they are also keeping an eye on the 2018 Atlantic Hurricane season.

I mentioned all the above simply to bring across my message, not only about a fallen electrical pole at one of the island’s premiere sporting facilities, but a number of issues affecting sportsmen and sportswomen in Fair Helen that those in authority have failed to deal with.

It’s been three weeks since a deteriorating electric pole (metal) collapsed at the Vigie Multi-Purpose Sports Complex — the one closest to the Uralis Bouty Pavillion — taking with it a section of the fencing. To date, the pole is still lying on the ground.

On enquiring, I was told that the Department of Youth Development and Sports is aware, but they are waiting for one individual to come to do the welding.
I took time out and asked five sporting individuals who frequent the facility on a daily basis to train, how long has the electric pole been lying on the ground? Their answers included, “I don’t know…”, “I can’t tell…” and “It’s been there for so long, I can’t even remember…”
At some point, one would have thought at least three of the five individuals would have noticed or remembered how long, but for them, I guess, the attitude is: “I don’t care. I don’t live here (at the complex)…”

This is one of the many sporting facilities where little or no attention is given. Some may not agree with me, but the reality is that much work needs to be done. Some pundits will say the playing area at the Vigie complex was recently resurfaced — I have no quarrel with that, but do you really think that’s all?

Sad to say, Saint Lucia hosted the Jean Pierre Caribbean Youth Netball Tournament in April and the home team finished in second place. Despite their performance on centre court, the lighting has been horrible for years, with one less pole (three lights), which makes matters worse. But who has what it takes to say: “It’s time to fix the lights!”?

Saint Lucia’s Prime Minister Allen Chastanet was present at the Vigie Multi-purpose Sports Complex on the night of the final and had to seek shelter underneath a tent because of a persistent drizzle. During the closing ceremony, he said: “I was upset in 1986 when we were building this outdoor facility on this very tough surface. I want to make a promise. The next time we have a regional tournament here, we will have a cover and a new surface for everyone to play on.”

But we have been hearing this same old song for close to 25 years — it’s just a recurring decimal.

You take a drive around and you’ll see the number of sporting facilities which are in poor condition –the worst I have seen.

The Gros Islet Players Pavillion was in a deplorable condition up to the Windward Islands Senior Men’s Cricket Tournament held there last month. It was an eyesore when you entered the washrooms. The players had to use the nearby bushes to urinate during the Massy Insurance Secondary Schools and the Sandals Cup Under-19 cricket tournaments.
These are the conditions we still have our young men and women playing under, for real — and the list goes on.

Vandalism at sporting facilities is at an all-time high — and that needs to stop if we are to progress as a country. Right now, however, it’s our trade mark.

Representing our country is a huge undertaking. We must prepare our sportsmen and women for the pressure of competing on a global scale and should do all we can to provide them with the necessary tools and skills to ensure victory — and at the same time we must remember sports is not only about winning medals, but is an integral part of growing our citizens properly.

There’s lots of talent available, so what is it then that makes us fail so miserably?

One thing for sure: Saint Lucians do not hesitate to point their fingers in certain directions when it comes to the country’s failure in sports. Most people think “The Government” is to blame for lack of vision – of course they need to take some of the blame, but so too must the executives of the various sporting associations, including their technical committees, for selecting the wrong sets of people to represent Fair Helen because of friendship.

Speaking about administrations, most of them have failed, or they choose to turn a blind eye on holding anyone in their ranks accountable.

A lot of political bickering is responsible for the ability of sports to progress. Those in charge from the various government Ministries/Agencies/Youth and Sports Councils and National Sports Federations know what’s wrong — and know what to do. But the question is, will they do it? Too much red tape!

The lack of attention given to sports is evident in the 2018-2019 fiscal budget presented in May — and that’s another story, all by itself.

Finally, I have the gut feeling — and the good news is — that sooner than later, when some people will begin to wake-up and realise what I have said before: that Saint Lucia needs a revolution — not by guns, but one where we can change the way we think and start to do things right.

Yes, we definitely need a revolution where we can again call Fair Helen home; a revolution that will ensure that when our national anthem is played we all stand at attention — and not with a drink in hand or walking all over the place; a revolution where we can wear our national colours with pride; a revolution where we can come out as Saint Lucians in record numbers and stand firm behind our national teams at all times; and last — but by no means least — a revolution where the private and public sector will see it necessary to support sports on a much bigger scale.

After all this is our country, the place we call home – our own 758.

Anthony De Beauville is The VOICE Publishing Company’s multi-award winning sports journalist. He works closely with a number of sports federations including the Department of Youth Development and Sports, the Saint Lucia Olympic Committee and other organizations.

He covers and contributes articles highlighting the areas of international, regional, national, community based clubs and schools sporting activities. There is never an off day as he stays busy... Read full bio...

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