‘Long Ago’ & ‘Old-time Days’

Caribupdate

From time to time it happens: a weekend when there is no shortage of activities across Grenada. This was one of those weekends.

In the north, at the Sauteurs Bus Terminus, there was the final of the 2015 Independence Calypso Monarch competition on Saturday. Among the other major events on Saturday were activities related to the 2015 Island Water World Sailing Week; the inaugural Spice Music Awards at the Grenada Trade Centre; and the Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year Awards at the Radisson Grand Beach, organized by the Grenada Olympic Committee (GOC).

On the one level, the many events are commendable as they add vibrancy to national life. On the other hand, it leaves one to wonder whether we won’t be better served were there to be some way of coordinating events; or, in the case of national associations and organizations, if some crosschecking is done as they draw up plans to host events; this way, it would help eliminate clashes between important events.

Caribupdate Weekly suspects that part of the problem could be a lack of proper administrative structure; something that is commonplace among almost all our national organizations.

In Grenada, we have a tendency to talk a good talk about change but, in behaviour, we hold on steadfastly to traditional ways of doing things; either afraid or unwilling to innovate or attempt 21stcentury practices.

There are constant factors, for example, that contribute to the domination of a few countries in world sports. It’s not just that their populations are larger than ours; or that they are richer than we are. It’s also because there are administrative structures and systems in place that allow them to effectively support their athletes, and to quickly make changes where necessary to improve athletes’ performances.

We want to recommend that when we solicit assistance from international agencies, whether it’s the International Olympic Committee, the Organization of American States or UNESCO, that specific requests should be made for help with administration, human resource, public relations and marketing.

Sports journalist Michael Bascombe, in his excellent address to the recent awards’ function of the Media Workers’ Association of Grenada, urged MWAG to “reconsider the functioning of the association’’; to ponder “a widening of participation in the media workers’ activities’’, and to think on how MWAG could attract “wider membership and activism among media workers in the functions of the association’’.

Mr Bascombe’s suggestions are all laudable. However, we do not see how it’s going to happen when MWAG, through no fault of its own, is without the necessary professional administrative structure; and its executive comprises working journalists whose first priority is earning a living to try to make ends meet.

Similarly, the GOC and its affiliate associations are in need of funding to establish better administrative infrastructure. Funding, whenever our associations are fortunate to receive it from a generous donor, is mandated to be used for talent development or some such thing. Nothing’s wrong with that; except, it is often followed by whispers of, “where’s the money gone’’; and allegations of misuse of funds.

We believe the volunteers who run MWAG, the GOC or any of our sports organization, overwhelmingly are there to do a good and honest service. We’re sure mistakes do occur; but, we’ll put them down primarily to inadequate administrative structures. Some Grenadians are fond of harping about “long ago’’ and “before time’’ and the “old-time days’’, when national associations were run wholly by volunteers.

However, we have to admit that few questions were ever asked of these associations, “long ago’’. We attended Whitsuntide Games and could care less whether it was a financial success or not, so long as we enjoyed ourselves. In the days when the Jaycees or the Carnival Development Committee was in charge of carnival, their carnival events were virtually the only game in town. We patronized the shows and we happily returned home, once “we’’ boy or “we’’ girl won the competition. No questions were asked.

In this more enlightened age, the demands for accountability and reporting are stringent. Yet, we keep insisting that we could do the “long ago’’ thing and have volunteers – on their free time and at the end of a working day or on weekends – come in and do work that truly requires fulltime professional attention.

Hence, we see our runners on the athletics track; and our young netballers, basketballers, footballers, tennis players, cricketers, and volleyballers perform. And then, the media, a scout trying to woo a young boy or girl to take up a university scholarship, or some member of public, try to get information on the outstanding sportsman or woman, and the information is not available. Documentation, record-keeping and archiving are sketchy or non-existent; because, there is no investment in those areas; we continue as we did, “before time’’.

In the current environment, GOC, Grenada Netball Association, Spicemas Corporation, Grenada Steelbands’ Associations, calypsonians, mas’ band leaders and others, are facing competition and seeking to attract fans who can choose not just from other local activities, but also from what’s available via cable and the internet.

The competition is becoming increasingly difficult and our national sporting, cultural and social organizations must step up on their administrative, public relations and marketing performances if they want to remain relevant; and if they want to attract and maintain fans, members, supporters and sponsors.

Caribupdate

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