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Not playing by the rules will hamper the successful development of Caribbean sport
Published on August 9, 2017 Email To Friend    Print Version

The Caribbean usually evokes images of white sand, sparkling blue waters, and tourists generally participating in paddle-boarding, kayaking, kitesurfing, and windsurfing. However, sport such as cricket is supremely important to the proud and diverse people of a comparatively tiny segment of the world.

The effectiveness of sport infrastructure in the Caribbean is tied to having clear terms of reference and to the adherence to rules; rules that prevent bias, anarchy, and even injury. The people of the Caribbean believe that this is how things get accomplished; thereby avoiding impromptu and poor decisions.

rules.jpg 
Source: The Blue Diamond Gallery

There is the belief that the Caribbean is successful in spite of its sports infrastructure rather than because of it. Caribbean governments do recognize the unifying effect of a global appearance on the world sport stage, roused particularly every four years by Olympian dreams, engendering support from a proud Diaspora, and having positive effects on tourism.

However, the Caribbean territories would need to look at sports infrastructure in a collective way in order to participate. Individually, most of the countries do not have the resources to fund the investment and have to rely on the generosity of the Caribbean and global conglomerates while seeking out other fundraising mechanisms. There are some that consider throwing too much money at sport makes it soulless, as with cricket, resulting in spoilt athletes with little regard for rules.

kensington_oval_2003.jpg 
Source: Wikimedia

Rules are not meant to be hidden away in a cumbersome and dusty manual; every sport has examples of established rules and terms of reference: games of mental skill, the revered game of cricket, football, water sports – the list is endless. Players are expected to follow the rules that govern their team, informing such things as behaviour, dress, and any unusual circumstances that may occur.

Indeed, the very existence of policing organizations are examples of the need to monitor the flouting of rules. Not only are there rules for players, but also for the officials and coaches as well.

A firm sport programme in every Caribbean territory should seek to reposition sport as a principle component of development. The University of the West Indies (UWI) vice-chancellor, Professor Sir Hilary Beckles, has the view that a developed sporting industry will assist in diversifying the Caribbean economies and make them more competitive. The statement was made at the official launch of the UWI’s Faculty of Sport on July 26, 2017. Its clear mission and vision will ultimately improve sport in the Caribbean.

And national pride is increasing, bolstered by the gradual move away from sending our sportsmen and women overseas for their athletic development as was the case with star athletes Usain Bolt and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, who warmed West Indian hearts as their skills were honed on “Jamaican yam” and not on a steady diet of American collegiate programmes.

Vice-Chancellor Beckles referenced a report that assessed the global sport industry to be valued at an estimated US$145 billion, which needs to be tapped into. Clear rules supported by established terms of reference will lay the foundation for success.

Many of the keys to success on the court, fields, or table can be easily applied in life. Living with and adjusting to new cultures is more important than ever today, which is applicable to the diverse cultures that exist in the Caribbean, especially as it relates to a team sport that draws on players from different countries. Managing conflict off the court and avoiding unnecessary obstacles that distract players from performing on the court is also part of the daily lives of players.

The existence of a stated common vision, objectives, scope, and deliverables as well as the element of quality is what will ultimately boost the disciplined development of Caribbean sport.
 
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