Sun | Aug 20, 2017

Choose locals to represent Jamaica

Published:Tuesday | February 2, 2016 | 2:00 AM

In the beginning, sports to a child consisted of running up and down, jumping, playing catch and having fun.

Then adults step in. Rules are introduced and the game becomes structured, with ultimately winners and losers. Children then benefit from what sports offers - physical activity, the importance of rules, safety, the importance of teammates, respect for authority, etc.

Soon, it becomes obvious which sport a child is best suited for, thus the process of becoming great at a particular sport begins.

Training is introduced, skills are honed and developed with the first aim being to represent your community, school (or vice versa), club and, ultimately, country.

At different points along this journey, monetary reward can be introduced, which may, or may not, reduce the ultimate goal, national representation.

In the past, national representation trumped just playing for money but, as the rewards (cash and kind) increased to unprecedented levels, national representation slipped further down the totem pole of life's goals.

To old fogeys like me, that fact is very disturbing.

I am one who does believe, however, that maximising one's ability to be well rewarded for being good at sports can coexist with national representation.

All that is needed for this to become reality is for the administrators of sport to be as broad-minded as possible, not let 'bad mind' and jealousy corrupt their thought processes as they draft rules, the sole aim of which is to punish the rich sportsman and sportswoman, who dare to think for themselves and eventually refuse to bow to some of their ridiculous demands.

As it stands, national representation seems to be an important step on the journey to financial independence.

Therefore, international competition should be 'the best of ours against the best of yours'.

Nations should be able to identify talent, develop this talent with facilities, resources and coaches.

OVERSEAS HELP

Most nations, eventually seek overseas help in developing the skills set and potential of their natives. This may include the hiring of overseas experts, or sending their talented nationals to an overseas destination with better facilities and higher-quality competition that should make that individual better at the particular sport.

Eventually, in international competition, the best of ours goes up against the best of theirs. Not so in the 21st century.

The rules now allow sportsmen and sportswomen to represent countries in sports, even though their knowledge of the country that they represent is gained from anecdotes and the Internet and, in some cases, they do not even speak the native language of the nation they represent.

This 'rule' is supported by those who believe that winning is not only everything, it is the ONLY thing.

I would like to see Jamaica resist this trend, insist that those who represent us are 'us', natives whose skills are identified and developed locally (and sometimes) overseas, returning to represent their country, assist in improving those who are HERE, by passing on what they have learnt, so that the country benefits.