Paul Wright | What to watch this summer
As the month of May winds down, sport fans are faced with a smorgasbord of events that is enough to spark a veritable panic. “What to watch?” is the question.
For West Indians, the World Cup of cricket begins, with a team whose make-up consists of the stars of tomorrow blended with proven cricket ability and nous, of some who were absent from the team because of an environment of toxicity that was fuelled by a board president whose tenure included demands of “smile and bow when you see me or else”.
As West Indians with an innate sense of self-worth, they demurred and continued displaying their confirmed skill and talent in other leagues and countries. With a change of leadership in the cricket hierarchy, our exiled champions have been returning. How they will fare in the World Cup makes watching and supporting the team mandatory, no matter the outcome. Our women cricketers begin a series of international matches, yearning for the form that made them feared by all. Already, Stafanie Taylor and the crew have dismantled Ireland in the first International by restricting them to a mere 75 runs, chasing a mediocre total of 139 for four.
For us, here in Jamaica, the Sunshine Girls, who are in the final preparation stage of their quest to, at last, win the World Cup, are ranked third in the world. The addition to the coaching staff of the legendary Winston ‘Scrappy’ Nevers gives us hope that we can move up from the “sometimes third, most times fourth” that has dogged our foray into these types of championships in the past. This time, winning is a real and definite possibility.
In track and field, the return to sub-11 times by our sprint queen Shelly-Ann ‘Mummy Rocket’ Fraser-Pryce and the continued improvement of Elaine Thompson makes the return of the glory days of Beijing (2008) a real possibility as our men and women prepare for the upcoming IAAF World Championships. Our male and female throwers and jumpers have already staked their names on the medal lists for the championships later this year. If only our inter-camp rivalry could be tapered down, the glory days could return sooner than we think.
The ladies of football who have qualified for the FIFA Women’s World Cup are now in Europe continuing their preparation for the “big show”. Battling male incompetence in the build-up to this truly historic quest, our ladies are STILL focused and anxious to perform to the best of their ability. The attitude and failure to plan, execute, and deliver conditions that would enhance the well-being of the team by a federation that has mumbled and stumbled at every level, when it comes to the mind, body, and soul of these ladies can spark thoughts of sabotage. Why can’t these men in suits at the Jamaica Football Federation get anything right? Gee whiz!
The power of sports in shaping the psyche of a nation has been demonstrated time and time again. So, when administrative incompetence is demonstrated on a level of consistency that sparks thoughts of deliberate sabotage, it is time for the Government to seriously consider stepping in and acting, not as the boss, but as mediators that have an interest in seeing to it that that best conditions for excellence at play are provided by administrators, coaching staff, technical experts and the athletes themselves. Far too often recently, incompetent administrators have been shown to be responsible for sub-par performance by athletes of proven excellence.
The ‘fights’ and intense competition for administrative positions in different sporting organisations prove that there is more to these positions than would appear to the casual observer. There is great reward for those who attain these positions. While some have definite altruistic motives and eventually prove to be good for the sport, there are, recently, too many of these winners who have been shown to be interested only in trips, per diem, and photo opportunities. When that trait is manifested, it cannot be left to a few who benefit from appointments to favoured positions to determine the future of the sport. There has to be a method of recall when continued incompetence is manifestly demonstrated.
To those selected and preparing to carry the hopes and aspirations of a nation desperate for a respite from bad and depressing news, I say: “Good luck, focus, and be aware of your awesome responsibility to the psyche of your fellow citizens. We need you to do your best, win lose or draw.”