Much to celebrate, much to improve
Last Friday, the RJR Foundation hosted the Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year 2014 ceremony, where the best of Jamaica's sporting heroes were honoured. Most sports were honoured by having their best receive awards for a year in which they performed well.
The new section, 'Mind Games', is a welcome addition and the enthusiasm of the chess president was well received. The predictable winners, Alia Atkinson and Nicholas Walters, were gracious in their acceptance speeches and the guest speaker carried a message that was worth listening to.
Mr Bancroft Gordon exploded the myth 'We-have-no-money' that paralyses administrations (in all walks of life) and stifles progress, by giving examples and advice as to how funds can be raised. I was thrilled when he reminded the audience that there was a time when playing fields were sponsored by businesses and reflected surfaces that enhanced the skill of the participants.
Hopefully, the administrators of football in Jamaica will be reminded of the horrific waste of funds garnered from our sole appearance at the 1998 World Cup (including that ridiculous balloon) and now actively partner with businesses to sponsor the development of playing fields and even mini-stadiums.
In the United States, stadiums and playing fields are sponsored by corporate giants. In Jamaica, our corporate giants, year after year, record profits with very little (percentage wise) return to sports and culture. Banks and financial institutions immediately come to mind. The money IS available. We need to understand the power of sports in lifting the morale of our citizens, thus improving their productivity.
The ceremony was understandably long, as it was important that all the recipients got their moment of glory. However, the event cried out in anguish for a producer who could ensure that recipients got their trophies and were taught or reminded of where to go and what to do AFTER receiving same. A good idea would be to advertise for applicants with a good background in producing ceremonies of this magnitude for next year's renewal.
Unfortunately, the weekend had to continue, with the nation being forced to realise that the skill of our young footballers witnessed during the Manning Cup and daCosta Cup competitions pale significantly when compared to the skill of other age-group footballers from the CONCACAF region. As is now (painfully) the norm, Jamaica is forced to realise that 'the power of we is stronger than the power of me'.
The Jamaica Football Federation must recognise and reward coaches of successful schoolboy teams who, year after year, get the best out of their charges, no matter the skill level of the team.
Our successful Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Association coaches MUST be given the opportunity to show Jamaica and the world how to get players to subordinate their own personal goals for the good of the team. The goal of playing in a football tournament should not be 'how to impress a scout', but that goal should be 'who among my teammates is in the best position to help us to win?'
As a great American coach once said: "Ten strong horses could not pull an empty baby carriage if they worked independently of each other."
Successful schoolboy coaches have no business coaching adults, and successful adult coaches have no business coaching children.
Similarly, in cricket, the West Indies go into the World Cup with a captain whose international experience consists of the five games presently being contested in South Africa. His personal performances with bat and ball have exposed the muddled thinking of the selectors, who have among them 'legends' of West Indies cricket, who seem determined to tarnish their legacies as they WILL be remembered as partners in the complete embarrassment of West Indies cricket.
Sir Vivian Richards and Chris Gayle have been giving us, the fans, big hints that the present group of cricketers in South Africa is a "disgruntled" bunch of players. The task force that reviewed the debacle in India has found that everyone involved - players, union and administrators were guilty of wrongdoing, but we have now seen that only the players have been punished. Something is very wrong with that outcome. Until the West Indies Cricket Board recognises their role in what is now the 'Indian Affair' and remove themselves from office, the slide continues.
We the people have the power to change that. Our power is in our pockets. Stay away from events that enrich the board and withdraw support from the sponsors of this board.