Patrick Simmons speaks ‘outstanding’

As the former Minister of Sports I would like to applaud my former colleague Minister, Arley Gill for raising the conversation on “Producing more Kirani-type athletes” in the public domain.

Additionally, it is heartening for him to recognise the contribution of the former Sports Minister in addressing the same issue.  In fact, he also made his contribution in addressing these issues and debated with great intensity and purpose in the Upper House of Parliament where he was the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Government main spokesperson on Sports.

However, permit me to shed light on some of the points raised by Mr
Gill in his commentary.

Sports development must be addressed in a scientific way and the old method of piece-meal approach should be a thing of the past. As a result, this was the premise for developing a Sports Policy for Grenada.

The writing of the National Sports Policy with our guidance (Gill, Fullerton and Simmons) would have set the stage for the systematic development of sports in the state of Grenada.

The policy addresses all aspects of sports development and sets up a framework for a new structure to manage sports. The implementation of the policy started in 2012 with establishment of the Parish Sports Councils (PSC).

PSCs were set up in most parishes (using the St John’s model) along with a Secretariat and paid Secretary to serve all parish sporting leagues. The role and function of this body are spelt out in details in the Sports policy.

On the issue of the elite athlete and coaching programme, the implementation of that programme began in 2011. Coaches within the education system were transferred to the Ministry of Sports to begin the process.

Coach Albert Joseph (Kirani’s former coach) was assigned to athletics and Coach Ashley Cummings assigned to the Under-15 cricketers. Mr Gill, as you would recall every effort was made to have Coach Ulrick Scoon transferred to the Ministry to work with basketball but it did not materialise.

Making mention of basketball is compelling. This sport is in the best position for development in its present construct. Even without a national association, more than ten tournaments were organised in Grenada last year.

During the period 2008 to 2012 most of the existing courts were
repaired and we have witnessed the construction of about six new facilities with the most modern in the constituency of St Andrew South East.

To further strengthen the effort, both the current Coordinator of Sports and his deputy, were confirmed to their positions after serving for many years without any hope of having their status regularised.

On the question of Rondell Bartholomew, he had his health and fitness challenges over the years. However, from all reports emanating from overseas he is back on the track and looking forward to qualifying for the 2016 Olympics.

In my opinion, if only the present controllers of sports had the political will to continue the implementation of the National Sports Policy (NSP) we will all benefit. It’s about the institutional strengthening of the existing organisations.

The implementation of the incentive and rewards system for our outstanding administrators, coaches, and athletes and the investment in the physical infrastructure for sports are also part of the policy.
(See details in the NSP)

The reconstruction of the national track & field and football stadium (former Senator knows the entire story of this project) will assist in the development but it takes vision for the maximising of its benefits.

Former Senator Gill’s investment into the writing of the NSP and his influence in given the present political construct, he should leave no stone unturned in ensuring that the present Controllers continue the implementation of the NSP. When this happens “Producing more Kirani-type athletes” will be possible.

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