Throughout history sports have been a key component in the building of a nation that is productive, competitive, motivated and healthy.
The Greeks, who are credited with being the first to create organized sporting, saw in it not only a way to foster healthy competition between individuals, but they also saw this as a way to instill pride in their own population.
The Greeks recognized the importance of government input into sports and that relationship has remained that way throughout history.
In today’s global sporting World, teams and, in some cases, individuals are an extension of nations, people and cultures. Whenever a team is seen in any international arena, spectators are not only seeing that team, but rather they are looking at a nation.
Therefore, whenever we send out any team or individual to represent us in any international arena, they are more like ambassadors rather than competitors.
Governments who fail to capitalize on what has become free marketing and advertising of their nation through international sporting events do so at their own detriment and peril.
While I do not support an open cheque approach for the financing of sporting franchises with tax payer’s money, government must at the least, set the foundation for the building of successful sporting opportunities.
Regardless of the outcome of our football team, the Jaguars, in the 2013 Gold Cup, we must be proud of what they have done. Our team while not successful against the mighty, well-financed and organized US Team, was able to put a score on the board which is an accomplishment in itself.
With limited resources and genuine raw talent, we have been able to field a team on the international level.
While sports will not be the answer to all the current problems we are facing, it can definitely serve as a catalyst to start the process of addressing many of our social ills. For government to not want, refuse or ignore a golden opportunity to begin the process of curbing social problems is a misstep on their part.
While I am not privy to the amount of assistance given to sporting infrastructure, the plain truth is that government can do much more in creating not only the mechanism but also the physical infrastructure for success.
I am sure that with a pool of raw talent that we have in the nation in just about every discipline, polishing these raw diamonds in the rough is all that is needed.
Creating an organized network, including training, development, mentoring, and coaching in all sporting facilities, fields and training centers, this can happen. I am hopeful that within my lifetime, Belizeans will become gold medallists and world champions.
It’s all about the people!
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