Thu | Aug 17, 2017

Administrative bungling negatively impacting sports

Published:Tuesday | November 3, 2015 | 11:00 AMDr Paul Wright, Contributor

Alicia Ashley was born in Jamaica on August, 23 1967. On Friday, at the age of 48 years and 81 days old she won the World Boxing Council (WBC) Super Bantamweight championship title.

Ashley is a world-champion athlete with the genetic makeup and indomitable spirit that translates to excellence in the field of sports - Jhaniele Fowler-Reid in netball, Alia Atkinson in swimming, Usain Bolt in track and field, Chris Gayle in cricket, Raheem Sterling in football, and I could go on and on.

All these Jamaica-born athletes are recognised as being among the best in the world. Yet, when it comes to using individuals with similar genetic make-up and indomitable spirit in team sports, Jamaica's name disappears from the list of champions. What could be the reason? What could cause a nation of some of the greatest athletes in the world to fail so miserably in team sports?

Let us start in the quest for the answer by looking at the different sports.

Netball: The present leader and administration of netball in Jamaica took over the reins of the sport with the nation ranked fourth in the world. After many years, many coaches, different teams, we are still ranked fourth in the world. Yet our Sunshine Girls are recruited by teams in Australia, New Zealand and England to play in their elite Leagues. However, in world championships we are sometimes third, most times fourth.

 

ADMINISTRATIVE BUNGLING

I submit the reason for our lack of upward mobility in world netball is due to administrative bungling when it comes to selecting a coach.

The most successful coach ever in Jamaica's netball is Winston Nevers. He has won more titles in all divisions of netball than all the coaches of the national team combined.

Yet, he is constantly overlooked by what appears an unwritten policy of 'no male netball coach until the national football team has a female coach'.

That 'policy' has since been verbally withdrawn, but, as my granny used to say, "action speaks louder than words".

Football: The present leader and administration of football in Jamaica took over the reins of the sport and took the nation to the ultimate prize in football, playing in the World Cup finals.

The formula was to use Jamaican players to qualify us through the early stages, only to jettison them in the latter stages. That formula has been repeated every year since 1998, yet we have never been close to qualifying again.

That formula revealed the fact that the foreign Jamaican players had absolutely no interest in advancing Jamaica's football, only on enhancing their career goals.

 

SAME OLD PROBLEMS

Yet, year after year, it's 'same-old, same-old'. Never once thinking of (a) improving the playing surfaces of football fields in this country, thus improving the quality of our players; (b) giving local footballers a chance of playing with (obviously) more talented foreign players, thus improving themselves.

Cricket: The present leader of the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) has carried West Indies cricket down a path that has seen international teams reduce considerably the number of matches that they play against us, and complain bitterly of financial losses when we do get a chance to play.

The West Indies have alienated and dumped some of the region's best players, while its leader disrespects cricket icons on social media and talks glibly about settling a "charge" by the Indian Cricket Board recompensation for an aborted tour by the players 'by the end of June' this year.

We are now in November and there has been no word on any resolution to this crisis.

This same administration suspended the head coach of the team, Phil Simmons, on September, 28, for controversial (and possibly truthful) public statements. The administration met with Simmons and he has been reinstated.

I read recently a Chelsea player quoted as saying he would prefer to lose than win a match for the manager, Jose Mourinho. When I look at the results of the recent Test series against Sri Lanka and the first one day international, I get the feeling that there are similar sentiments within the West Indies squad.

It is time we, the people, demand (a) term limits for sport administrators and (b) insist leaders of sporting organisations play the sport at a high level, thus showing they can relate to the intricacies of international competition. It is not too late. Important elections in different sporting organisations are due before December.