Sport$ millions too little, too late

Date Published: 

Eddie Hart League openingThe Government's decision to set aside large sums of money for sport development came also in response to protests and demands made over the years by sportsmen and women. The opening of the Eddie Hart League in Macoya last Sunday was another occasion of protest, and some of the footballers pose here for TAPIA cameras with their telling placards "All work and no play make Jack a dull boy . . ."

ONCE AGAIN, last weekend, the opening of the Eddie Hart Football League in Macoya was an occasion of protest against the conditions which sportsmen and women in this country have to endure.

The annual opening of the Eddie Hart League is looked forward to as a valid expression of grass-root sentiment.

It has been an outstanding example of community spirit, and a never-failing reminder that the spirit of self-help still prevails in some communities across the land.

And the spirit of indepence too. For the E.H. Leaguers last Sunday were not simply crying "Run
something", they are doing something to help themselves, and are denouncing the government for its paltry efforts in the field of sport.


Eddie Hart League openingAt right is the cadet band which provided music for the parading teams in the background.

That this should take place on the same weekend that there was this great official welcome organised for Hasely Crawford simply showed up the regime's shameless opportunism.

Last Sunday was the 10th anniversary of the Eddie Hart League and the occasion was marked with fitting ceremony.

The Trinidad and Tobago Cadet Band played music for the march past. It was all dedicated to the honour of Hasely Crawford.

Representatives of the Youth Training Centre took part, reflecting a recognition of the fact that the opportunities provided for underprivileged youth by the Eddie Hart League would be otherwise unavailable.

The thoughtless destruction of facilities that used to exist and the heartless refusal to develop new facilities have been the hallmarks of the government's activities in sport over the years.

The east — Tunapuna, Tacarigua, Arouca, etc — abounding in talent, have endured the situation in which the Honeymoon ground has been left to go to ruin over years, in fact depriving the residents of a playing field that had been used for years.

All of this has been documented in TAPIA before, largely by Ruthven Baptiste, and also by Earl Best.

Now all the major issues of sport are before the country's eyes, brought there by the dazzling success of Hasely Crawford.

The Eddie Hart opening took place, of course, some hours before the Olympic gold medallist was to be met at Piarco by the Prime Minister and other dignitaries.

At that airport ceremony the Prime Minister would announce a $50 million allocation for sport.

Without any visible plan in accordance with which to spend the money, the $50 million allocation has only announcement-value at this election time.

Perhaps the truer picture about sport in this country lies in the fact that no other member of the T&T olympic contingent won any kind of medal at all.

Blinded by the glory of Hasely, there has been little assessment of how the rest of the team performed.

But the mass of sports men and women in this country — like the Eddie Hart Leaguers in Macoya — know fully well that 50 million dollars do not a new era in sport make.

Two billion-dollar budgets have not altered the quality of life in Trinidad and Tobago in a way that anyone can see, so the $50m "gift" will not redeem the givers.

It may yet be too little anyway, and for sure it's too late.