Sat | Jan 19, 2019

Steve Lyston | Sports for change

Published:Monday | February 19, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Windies players celebrating a wicket.
‘I believe the best person to carry out such a venture and who can help to revive West Indies Cricket from this perspective is Dr Akshai Mansingh’.

For local and global change to take place, we have to move away from our current focus. Many are focussing on infrastructure, economic development and climate change as the priorities, but the number one focus must be human development. Even God Himself, according to Isaiah 66: 1, is clear on His priorities and His focus. We must get back to where we begin nurturing gifts and talents. If we are serious about increasing GDP (gross domestic product) and having a positive effect on reducing crime and violence, then we must begin to focus on sports as a big part of bringing about the necessary change.

God created gifts and talents within each individual for the betterment of mankind and for all to benefit and profit, which, if properly managed and executed, can reduce poverty. Leadership in itself is a gift that has the potential to bring advancement to a nation. Even something as highly ridiculed and despised as prophecies are gifts God has given for the advancement of a nation and its people (Exodus 36: 1 - 2; Matthew 25: 14 - 21; 1 Corinthians 12: 7; Romans 12: 4 - 8).

If sports is putting so many persons and nations on the proverbial map so to speak, then why is it not being included in the plans of the Government as a legitimate and viable means of increasing the nation's GDP?

In tourism-driven areas, where all-inclusive hotels thrive, why are so many of the areas' youth sitting idly, when it is not difficult to invest in setting up basketball courts, or cricket pitches, or even parks for the community with play areas, swings and slides for the children to begin to harness their love of sports and games of all kinds. They can even hire or fund a few coaches to help the area youth to develop their skills and donate trophies and medals to encourage healthy competition and sportsmanship. When we look, for example, at Boys' Town Football Club and Trench Town community struggling for resources, when there are so many resources going to the wrong places and the talents of our youth are lying waste, it's a crying shame and it indicates that our focus is wrong.

We need to build the people, and the people will build the economy. Small businesses will benefit. We need to stop focusing on big companies that are doing nothing for the community. We can produce our own Serena Williams, LeBron James and Stephen Curry.

West Indies cricket

Cricket is one of the two sporting activities that unite the Caribbean. With the current climate of dismal performances in West Indies cricket, there needs to be unity and the various cliques have to go if West Indies cricket is to move forward. The answer to the problem in West Indies cricket lies in the high schools. There are young potential cricketers emerging, particularly in fast bowling. There needs to be programmes within the high schools to create a pool of players, not just a starting 11, but reserve players as well; and we must begin to develop them in different areas - spiritually, physically and emotionally. This will build self-esteem, bring exposure, motivate them and increase awareness and growth for the nation, including the area of tourism. It also gives the opportunity for mentorship of these young players.

For six months each year, there should be a scheduled programme throughout the schools of Jamaica dedicated to training and developing young cricketers - not through the physical education programmes and teachers, but using a dedicated core of external trainers who care about the sport to run this programme.

I believe the best person to carry out such a venture and who can help to revive West Indies cricket from this perspective is Dr Akshai Mansingh - he has a lot to offer and a lot of runs to score - not as a doctor, but through his expertise and talents in the area. He, along with others throughout the Caribbean, such as Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Gus Logie and Jeffrey Dujon, have much to impart.

In order to create a sports empire as the new way to go to enhance the gifts and talents of our youth and to change our economic direction - and with due respect, we don't need Singapore or China to do this - the time has come for us to implement a sports tax - in much the same way that we have an education tax. If every working person gives $112 (Psalm 112) as sports tax to begin to nurture our young people in the area of sports, especially within the poorer communities, then we would see a major change within the nation, and, ultimately, the region.

- Steve Lyston is a biblical economics consultant and author of several books, including 'End Time Finance' and 'The New Millionaire'.