Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley has appealed to the society at all levels to get rid of the “gimme gimme” mentality and return to the spirit of volunteerism. It’s a most timely message given the economic truth facing T&T. Self sufficiency and ambitious visions to achieve and maintain financial independence must be the goal of our major sport organisations.
Policy proposals that deliver on the argument that sport is a positive force for good are a priority. National sport organisations (NSO) have a broad agenda. What they need is support not harangueing. They must be supported in their efforts to move sway from applying 20th century solutions to 21st century problems.
Sport should represent the values of equality, human rights and excellence and fairplay, defining the present and shaping the future. Sport has to answer the call to move away from gimme gimme. A new Minister of Sport has taken up the mantle of leadership at the Ministry of Sport. He has the responsibility of implementing the Government's policy for sport.
Policy is what will ultimately determine minister Darryl Smith's legacy. Better yet his adherence to policy and the policy cycle. In overseeing Government’s policy for sport, the next critical success factor is building a positive relationship with the various stakeholders and taking on board their respective interest.
The question making the rounds since Dr Rowley announced his cabinet has been what do you think about the Minister of Sport? My response is a practical one. Ministers of government are very dependent on their ability to work with the public service and motivate the public service to work with the Minister in delivering on government policy.
In the current situation, Smith will have to operate within the financial realities as determined by the Minister of Finance. The power of sport in the midst of darkness to offer a guiding and illuminating light to the youth of the nation is not in question. What is always in question is: How? How can we best harness and direct that power?
Many children and youth who endure life in troubled and at risk environments know little else than the evil they see and endure around them. Sport can make a difference. Sport can provide positive experiences. Inspite of weaknesses and shortcomings, sport can make a difference. That is why the Prime Minister's vision for volunteerism is relevant.
There are too many mercenaries about the space we call Trinidad and Tobago. The spirit of volunteerism is about giving back, paying forward and being the light for others. Our have to need to change into a want to. To help sport answer Dr Rowley's call and make the shift from mercenary to volunteer it falls to the sport leaders in the respective NSOs to listen and understand.
If we are to buy into something larger than ourselves, the motives we start with don’t have to be the motives we end up with. Mercenary motives can change and become volunteer motives. Moving past ‘gimme gimme’ will require a change in mindset and behaviour. Given the problems we are facing as a nation it may well be that there is no choice.
‘Gimme gimme’ has failed as a strategy. Its time to go back to basics and rebuild and there is no better place to start than sport. Lets put country and the bigger picture first.
• Brian Lewis is the president of the Olympic Committee. The views expressed are not necessarily those of the Olympic Committee. Support #10Golds24 Athlete Welfare and Preparation Fund. Make your donations to any branch of Scotiabank account number 171188.