Letters & Opinion

Open Letter to the President of the St. Lucia Athletic Association

Dear Sir,

In November 2020, the St Lucia Athletic Association held its election of officers. The meeting was held at the office of the Olympic House. This process allowed for attendees to vote for the persons who they believed would serve the organization and do well with regards to the athletes and work towards the development of track and field on the island.

Because we were in the midst of the COVID pandemic one would have thought, that this process would allow for participants who were not able to be there in person, to participate via zoom or some other means, however, that was not an option for the affiliates.

From my understanding, only one club did not participate in the process, however, the election process went on as it normally would. Information indicates that the one club sighted flaws with the process and hence did not feel comfortable in voting.

Hence. I asked a few questions:

Why is the process flawed? Why didn’t other persons opt out of the process? Is there a constitution? Did they follow the constitution? Do we still have phantom clubs with no athletes and no executive members? Is this still a factor in our sporting fraternity? What has become of the registration (of clubs/organization) process with the Ministry of Youth and Sports?

Has the review of the Constitution be complete? At what stage is it at?

The SLAA constitution allows for a number of policies and committees to be in place. Are these committees functional? Is there a disciplinary committee? Who serves on that committee, Is there a finance committee? Who serves on that committee? Is there a publication committee? Is there an Appeals committee? Is this information available to everyone? How do we find it?

Are the clubs who are part of this organization all have executive members, Are they Structured Clubs and are they registered with the Ministry of Youth and Sports?

Where do parents fit in all this process? Why are parents not actively participating in the decision -making processes? Why do you or your executive exclude them?

From then 2020 to now, the St. Lucia Athletic Association has had three meets. Out of the three meets, a number of issues and concerns have been brought to your attention. However, to date, there is no communication coming from you or your team.

I have endeavored to seek clarification from the club of which my nephew is part, as to how are athletes selected to represent this country. I was informed that the athletes must meet the qualification standards set by the associations Technical team.

When ask. what are the standards set for this athletic period – the response was- “NONE. If there are, it was never shared with us.”

I am very interested in the sport – as I too- am a former national athlete. I wish to express my regret with how the Association continues to serve our young athletes.

There are no development programs in place except for the track and field meets. There are athletes who are showing great promise- names that come to mind- Michael Joseph, Miguel Charlery, Ruben Nichlos, Hannah Charles, Julien Alfed, Naomi London, Armani Modeste. What are you as an Association doing to ensure that these young athletes get the support that is needed? I have seen the return of Lynen Leonce- former medalist at the CARIFTA Games and persons like Dylan Edwin etc.

Why did we not have a contingent at the NACAC under 20 /23 or the World Juniors U20? Did Michael not run good times. Based on what I am seeing in Nairobi, he could have very well gained from this experience?

Are we depending of the schools in the USA to provide the opportunities for development? Is that it? Haven’t you and your team observed that very few of these schools will prepare your athletes for you. They want their schools to win, hence they recruit the talent?

By the time the athletes leave university, they are burnt out for the hard regime of collegiate sports.

Is your focus on winning medals- if so- why not focus on development which includes exposure. Exposure to competition, to other training camps etc.

I know of many situations where athletes have been put in compromising situations- most recent was the CARIFTA TEAM of 2019. Yes, they were left with two Coaches who did not have the funding to provide them with their basic need of food- since they had missed their flight? Question is; Who helped them? Was it another athlete? Or some politician who came to their rescue? Where was team manager?

Is it true that a parent, has questioned the Validity of the results that were presented at one of the meets held this year? Is there truth that someone who did not compete appeared on the result sheet as having run and had a time allotted to his/ her name? This in not a new phenomenon for the SLAA. This has been going on for years. Why is there no improvement?

COVID 19 surely has impacted every single sport around the world- however, track and field is a sport that can easily allow for participation. But ofcourse, in St. Lucia we are unique because we have a HOSPITAL still being housed at the George Odlum Stadium. How does that affect our athlete’s development? Do you Care enough to do anything about it? If so, what is the SLAA doing? How are YOU making track and field possible for the young future Olympians?

The SLAA over the years have not encouraged parents to play active roles, they have not encouraged, other agencies and organizations to get involved – my question is simply- WHY?

There is a perception that if you speak up, the athletes get VICTIMIZED. I have heard of case where clubs or athletes get treated unfairly because they spoke up about situations that we just simply unfair in their minds. Would you rather them not ask the hard questions?

WHY are they perceived a threat when they do speak out? Why victimize? Why do you select athletes to major championships and select someone who knows nothing about the said athlete to be their coach? What’s the rationale?

Without parents, you have no athletes. Without Clubs and coaches, you have no athletes. The association is nothing without them. We are to find a balance to work together for the development of the sport and the athletes.

Our children are our business. You do right by them, and we will support you. Where are PLANS for the athlete’s development for period 2021-2024? What financial support or technical support or exposure do you intend to provide for development.

What are your plans for the young athletes? Where are our Senior Athletes? Why should they be retiring at ages 25, 28 and 30? Where is the development Plan Mr. President?

Where are we going? COVID isn’t going anywhere in a hurry, we all have to learn to live with it. We have to begin the work now, not tomorrow not day after, NOW!!

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