There are many things that our public institutions don’t get right; or, when they get them right, don’t do so consistently. It, therefore, becomes rather easy to beat up on the institutions and their staff; every Tom, Dick, Harry and Jane dump on them—sometimes justifiably; at other times, it is done out of pure spite, jealousy and ignorance; and still other times, the institutions and those employed therein are mere political fodder for activists on the outside of the government-of-the-day and are simply targets for scoring cheap political points.
Caribupdate Weekly does believe, however, that the vast and overwhelming majority of public servants are dedicated to their work; they want to do a good job. Many of them are limited by the resources available for doing their jobs, or constrained by the many existing archaic rules and regulations of the public service; rules and regulations that were designed eons ago to provide service to a smaller population; when the optimal goal was an attempt at efficient service — and not necessarily efficiently quick.
Our former British colonial rulers who set up the system mastered it and trained Grenadians, who inherited the system, to also be master of the system. Today’s world, however, still demands efficient and effective service — but speed also must be included in the equation.
Now, having said all that about the contradictions of our institutions and admitted to some of their weaknesses, we want to commend those public servants who are trying — gainst the odds – to deliver. And, in this vein, Caribupdate Weekly would like to single out the Ministry of Sports. In particular, we would like to express our appreciation to the men and women who are hired by the ministry as coaches. They are saddled with a humongous task of coaching thousands of students at primary and secondary schools—public schools and some private ones also. Coaching is offered in a range of disciplines including cricket, football, table tennis, basketball and lawn tennis.
Basketball, a sport with increasing interest across the nation, has three ministry-assigned coaches to serve all the schools. Richie Hughes has been carrying the mantle not just as lawn tennis coach; he also has been mentor and chaperon and a virtual godfather to his protégés. Hughes, a former national tennis champion and former Sportsman of the Year, is completely consumed with helping students and young people not just on the court but off the court as well.
The Sports Ministry — led by Emmalin Pierre as minister and Veda Bruno-Victor as permanent secretary — has been involved, wholly or partially as a sponsor or supporter — in a series of activities in the past few months. They include cross-country races for secondary schools; cricket; netball; and lawn tennis and table tennis competitions. And, no sooner had the Republic Bank-sponsored Right Start Football Tournament ended, than secondary schools’ basketball started. The 2014 basketball competition began last Friday at the Carenage Sports Complex. One can genuinely describe all these events as a warm up, an appetizer so to speak, to the main course—Inter-Col.
The Inter-Col Games, sponsored by Scotiabank and organized by secondary schools’ principals, are perhaps the most competitive of all school sports in Grenada. Schools are already in preparation mode for the Games that are only about four months away. Grenada Boys’ Secondary School and Anglican High School recorded convincing victories in 2014. We expect fierce challenge to dethrone them in 2015.
The success of Inter-Col is due, in no small means, to the diligence of our track and field coaches; the work they do—people like Conrad Francis, Kerlon Peters, Albert Joseph, Denise Williams and others—at the ministry, club and school levels. The coaches ought to be complimented for grooming and enhancing the skills and techniques of many talented young boys and girls. Kirani James, the Olympic and Commonwealth 400-meter champion, is the best example and motivation of what is possible and achievable through local coaching.
But what the nation needs to examine, as a matter of urgency, is the possibility of establishing a mechanism for moving our athletes from junior stars at the local and regional tiers, to genuine international competitors. The argument has been made, and it has been backed by Prime Minister Keith Mitchell, to endeavour to set up a program at St George University, where our sportsmen and women can continue their education, while developing their talent to be able compete in international track and field, football, lawn tennis, football, cricket and other sporting events.
However, whether it’s at SGU or some institution overseas, our athlete must be at a certain academic level, in terms of their grade point average, to gain entry to university. So, we encourage all our young athletes to not neglect their academic studies.
Caribupdate Weekly also would like to recognize those who, on their own volition, have been assisting our student-athletes in obtaining scholarships; accommodating and assisting them when they visit North America and Europe to compete; and in providing sporting gear to our sportsmen and women resident in Grenada. Dr Roland Glean has been a shining light in opening doors for students to get into Midwestern State University. Among the many other individuals who have thrown their weight behind assisting our young athletes are Mike McQuilkin, Clevoy Depradine, Roger Browne and Michael Bascombe.
The bottom line is there are some good people — including coaches and individuals in the Diaspora — that are trying their best to help our nation. We need to spend more time giving credit where credit is due, instead of engaging in a zero-sum game of pulling down, criticizing and demonizing.
Anyone can destroy. Only the best and most capable can build. A child of five is good at soiling his clothes. But, the five-year-old would do a very bad job of washing and ironing those same clothes.