(PRESS RELEASE VIA SNO) – Whilst there are no shortage of priority areas that have and are currently affecting our island home, I feel compelled to step out of my normal peripheral observatory to speak on a matter that I have direct involvement in civically; that of Sports Development and administration.
For those of you who may be unaware, I have occupied the Office of the Presidency of the St. Lucia Basketball Federation (voluntarily) for the last 8 years and have witnessed the failures by successive administrations to strategically chart and implement a course for the development of sports in Saint Lucia. I preface this, so that my intentions may not be misconstrued as that of a political operative ( although it will undoubtedly be done so by some), but merely a concerned citizen sports administrator-with no partisan persuasions -that has had the fortune of experiencing and understanding first-hand what sports can do socio-economically for the athlete and country.
With that said I’m going to get right into it. For the last eight years, we ( the SLBF) have struggled to implement meaningful development programs at all levels of the sport with minimal financial assistance from any administration, the Government Subvention for the development of the sport of basketball stands at just over XCD $7,000 per year; whilst our average recurrent expenditure usually hovers at about $150-200K, and this is usually raised through corporate sponsorship, support from NGO’s such as the National Lotteries Authority, the Saint Lucia Olympic Committee, gate receipts from tournaments and affiliate fees.
This as you can imagine, is no easy feat, but we continue to do the best that we can with what we have. Which obviously brings me right into the matter at hand-the USD 12 Million consultancy Fee being paid to the sports consultant for the scope of works highlighted in the published terms of engagement.
As a businessman, I understand well the concept of value and return on investment. I have no quarrel with any type of investment, once the return on said investment is positive and can be supported by empirical evidence in an acceptable timeframe… but in this case, I must confess that I have not seen any such evidence. I understand that that there were a series of consultations that were held with “key” stakeholders by the consultant, but neither the SLBF nor a significant number of my sport administrator counterparts were met with to discuss our respective perspective and very unique needs and challenges.
In my line of business, it’s very important to know what you don’t know, and from a National Sport policy agenda it is imperative that we as a small state explore existing limitations, issues and trajectories; but more importantly share this information and formulate solutions allowing the ‘voices’ of all actors; communities, policymakers, coaches, technical officials, external governing bodies, NGO’s, sponsors,volunteers and of course athletes to be heard within the context of holistic national sporting development.
I agree that the lack of adequate sporting facilities is a serious impediment to the development of sports, however it is not the only impediment… hence my trepidation that the lion share of this consultation fee is devoted to infrastructural development. May I humbly suggest that we “pump the brakes” here a bit. Would it not be better served if any National Sport Policy and commensurate allocation be dedicated to addressing current barriers in the following areas: scholarship and professional recruitment opportunities, cross-ministerial collaboration, engaging our regional and international governing bodies in public/private partnerships ( a well-known NBA franchise is waiting), elite sport and performance agenda dilemmas and the considerable limitations in human infrastructure and physical facilities?
I believe that at that sticker price, a more inclusive approach would allow our sporting associations and athletes to “punch way above our weight” internationally given our abundance of raw talent across all sports. Remember, 30 years ago St. Lucia achieved much more on the regional and international level with much less!