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Rally around athletes during COVID

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President of the Caribbean Football Union Randy Harris is calling on sports administrators across the region to lend more support to their national athletes and to see the entity as a revenue generator rather than just a past time.

“Other than cricket, officials in the Caribbean don’t show respect for sports as they should. This is an industry that could create so much for them, but they don’t see us as that important,” he charged.

Harris was a panelist on the recent Caribbean Broadcasting Union’s webinar entitled COVID-19: The Effects On Regional Sporting Competitions.

The long-standing sporting administrator, who is also president of the Barbados Football Association, said sports was normally way down the totem pole. Describing it as “a sad situation”, he said during the ongoing pandemic they were the last group that anybody wanted to lift.

“We in the Caribbean expect the best performances from our athletes, but we just don’t give them the support. We’re not even attending the events that are put on by our national associations, and to me, that shows a disregard for the development of youth,” he stressed.

And president of the Caribbean Association of National Olympic Committees, Brian Lewis, said Governments should see the ongoing pandemic as a wakeup call to realize that sports play a critical role in the West Indies and consideration should always be given for assistance.

“The innovation will come, for example, most federations and national Olympic committees now have to exist digitally. The whole conversation in terms of e-sports is now becoming a very live one, because . . . we’re still in COVID-19 and there’s no clarity as to when it would end,” he said.

Lewis, who is also president of the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee noted that sports in the Caribbean were not exempt from the harsh reality that COVID-19 had brought about.

And while globally the majority of sporting leagues had resumed or were about to resume, the Caribbean, with the exception of two cricket leagues remained in limbo.

He also noted that most Olympic Associations, and those committees affiliated with the International Olympic Committee, was in good financial standing and should remain financially viable, once next year’s Tokyo Games remained on schedule.

But he said, there were still many challenges at the national association level that would be faced across the board, especially in the wake of predictions of growth, including negative growth.

“For me, where I sit, the challenge is not so much at the NOC level, but at that of their members and at the level of their affiliates. There are a number of governance issues and because of the drying up, especially if the economies of the Caribbean lag recovery, then there are going to be national federations that will basically become insolvent,” he said.

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