By anguillian August 30, 2013 09:39



It may be coincidental, but it is noticeable that since the departure of Governor Harrison, and the termination of Minister Baird’s appointment, the political climate in Anguilla has been generally sunny with brief passing showers and no thunderstorms. Apart from the takeover of our two indigenous banks by the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank, a few weeks ago, things have been relatively calm for several weeks. This may be a sign that better days are just around the corner. It may signal the beginning of an improved relationship with the United Kingdom Government. And it could possibly mean that “now that Eddie is gone” there will be no more internal wrangling in the AUM administration – and our political leaders can now make meaningful progress in the implementation of their development plan for Anguilla. It is conceivable that this improved political mood could result in greater collaboration between leaders both in the ruling administration and in opposition to devise strategies for Anguilla’s economic recovery. But this could all be just wishful thinking on my part.
Like many other Anguillians, I am enjoying the calm and hoping that it is not an overnight guest, but a long term resident. However when, amidst the calm, the news hit Anguilla that Zharnel Hughes had made waves at the Pan American games and earned himself and Anguilla another gold medal in his 100 metre event, this was a welcome disturbance. Zharnel has joined long jumper Shara Proctor in making a name for himself and for Anguilla in the regional and international arena.

How has our Government (past and present) responded to the accomplishments of these athletes and others? Apart from congratulatory remarks from the Ministry and Department of Sports, and the usual meet and greet when successful athletes return home, how has Government recognized and celebrated their success? Nothing has come to my attention which suggests that athletes are recognized and rewarded in tangible ways by Government. This is unacceptable and ought to be rectified with some degree of urgency. There ought to be a policy of some sorts that would outline how athletes ought to be rewarded for various accomplishments. In many countries, including those right here in our region, athletes are treated as national heroes. Some receive monetary rewards, homes, vehicles, land and the like, in recognition of their achievements. Our Government needs to consider something similar.

Additionally, I would suggest that some investment be made in athletes like Zharnel and Shara, who demonstrate so much talent and promise, so that they could continue to excel. Consideration should be given to providing some funding for their training gear, training programmes, participation in competition etc. There must be something tangible which sends the message to athletes that we recognise that their accomplishments are not only personal, but national accomplishments and we appreciate the fact that they are worldwide ambassadors and promoters of Anguilla.
Paying lip service is not sufficient. We ought to be moving towards a meaningful, unbiased and clear policy for the provision of rewards and incentives to athletes. Maybe, this in itself will raise the profile of sports in the community, highlight its importance to national development and inspire others to view sports as a worthwhile endeavour. Until then, we run the risk of athletes becoming disillusioned with national representation particularly when that representation is only made possible by their personal sacrifice and the support of their sporting associations – and the only immediate reward for it is their personal accomplishment and gratification.

When all is calm, it is often a good time for reflection. I would encourage our Government, and anybody who has the power to effect change in this area, to use this time to develop a workable policy for rewarding our athletes. They deserve it.

By anguillian August 30, 2013 09:39


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