They have been named Association of the Year for several years – and they still hold the title for the association that has won the most national awards at the annual sports awards organized by the Department of Youth Development and Sports. But by the look of things from the outside, things are not rosey for the once formidable Saint Lucia Athletic Association (SLAA).
A former SLAA president is calling on affiliates to allow good sense to prevail and work for the betterment of the sport locally, as things have gotten worse.
Alfred Emmanuel, who has served in every capacity of the SLAA executive and is now General Secretary of the Saint Lucia Olympic Committee said, “For more than three years, I have been watching, listening and reading about developments in the Association and I believe the time has come to make a few comments.”
“Good sense must prevail if we want to regain the trust of people, Corporate Saint Lucia and long-standing associates of the SLAA.”
“There will always be disagreements and misunderstandings, but I have always cautioned members to sort them out, and away from the public domain.” He noted.
Emmanuel said, “There was a call for change and change — there was that change, but it now appears that the advocates for such change brought nothing of substance to the table.”
“From attending meetings and listening to the discourse, it is clear that most of those elected to serve in the current leadership have lost their way non-functioning, or have resigned.”
He continued, “Even those who were on the “Change Brigade” had or have very little to offer the current leadership, so they can better place our association on a stronger footing going forward.”
With a deep sense of concern, he said, “This cannot be good for our organisation.”
He further went on to say, “Committees have been created, but it is clear to me that the leadership of some of these committees have no vision and are unable to assist their members with a simple thing as conflict resolution, far less offering programming of a developmental nature and the list can go on and on.”
Emmanuel breathed a sigh of relief and made the following appeal: “Gentle people, for the good of our sport and those who we are supposed to be catering for, I call on all concern to put their selfish agendas aside.
“Put your pride behind you, throw away your vindictiveness towards others and be prepared to sit and discuss in a constructive atmosphere with one and only one agenda. How can we place our sport at the service of all in a professional and dignified manner.”
“We need to once again get athletes on the podium and we cannot and will not be able to achieve this if we continue in the manner we are currently.” He asserted.
The current composition of the depleted SLAA executive looks like this: Andrew Magloire- President Titus Elien- 2nd Vice President, Rena Samuel- Floor Representative and Rochelle Jn Baptiste- Secretary.
Roderick Cherry – 1st Vice President (Vote of no confidence was moved against him thus he is no longer an executive member, Gimry Lewis-Floor Representative (Resigned),, Brendaline Descartes – Assistant Secretary (Resigned), Dane Magloire – Public Relations Officer (Medical leave) and Terry Finisterre – Treasure (Resigned).
Meanwhile, the SLAA has lost favour in the eyes of two of its outstanding sponsors for junior track and field on the island: (1) The Saint Lucia National Bank has withdrawn its sponsorship to the Junior track and field championship, a championship recently dubbed “CARIFTA Trails”; and (2) The 1st National Bank Games, affectionately known as the “Penny Bank Games,” for the Juvenile track and field championship for under-14 athletes. A championship organised for talent identification and development where close to 600 athletes from across Saint Lucia participate.
This past Sunday saw the 25th edition of the National Juvenile championship held at the dilapidated George Odlum Stadium. Despite some eye-catching performances, the championship started two hours late as the SLAA tried to make-up numbers for individuals to officiate — and to add insult to injury, a number of athletes did not show up because of church celebrations taking place on the same day.
The VOICE spoke to Allan Hippolyte, a track and field official for 35 years, as to the poor appearances for duty by officials at one of the island’s oldest sporting events for juvenile athletes and this is what he said,
“It’s not what I think it should be; I am not sure whether it’s the fault of the SLAA or the officials themselves. I think we could do a lot better. I have been in it for 35 years and I still find the time on a Sunday to come out and assist.”
He continued, “It is for the young people, it’s our people, when they do well, we all raise our hands and party and we enjoy the moment. Nowadays nobody wants to give of their time to help those youngsters. They really need the help; they need people to coach them, to keep them going, to motivate them, that’s basically what I am doing.”
VOICE: Your word of advice to the SLAA to attract new officials?
Hippolyte: “In the last year, we formed an Officials Union, we are moving forward, sometimes work issues can be the major problem, some people don’t have the time; they have to ask their employees for time off.
“Not everybody will give their staff time off for officiating. To leave Castries and come down to Vieux Fort for a number of Sundays in the first half of the year is a lot to ask anybody, but if you love it, then you do it, but as a lover of it, I will continue to do it for as long as I can.”