Paul Wright | Keeping our sport leaders accountable
A headline on the sports pages of The Gleaner, recently, has created a sort of introspection into the leadership of our sporting administrations. The Gleaner story reported on the resignation of one of the directors of Netball Jamaica. As I understand it, the resigning official gave the story to The Gleaner reporter. There can be speculation as to why the goodly lady would chose that method to announce her departure, but there can be no speculation as to the fact that several persons have left the association for various reasons within the last two years.
Speculation could surmise that all is not well in the hierarchy of the administration of the Sunshine Girls, arguably the most successful team (when you take world ranking into account) in Jamaica at this time. However, the denials of a "problem" in the leadership style of president Dr Paula Daley-Morris came thick and fast. The exposÈ of problems that occurred in the recent tour of England, where the Sunshine Girls defeated the higher-ranked England team in a three-test series that culminated with the successful coach , Mineth Reynolds, resigning on her return to the island, along with the peculiar removal of the team physician, Dr Primanand Singh, meant that a response had to include demonstrable truths and facts. Instead, what followed was a show of defiance, and support from their Kelly-Ann Conway-sound-alike spokesperson and the president herself.
In a recent radio interview, there was no response as to when the finances of the Association would be tabled at a Board meeting and no point to point rebuttal of Dr Singh's complaints. Closely following on this kerfuffle, came the news that the next annual general meeting of the Amateur Swimming Association of Jamaica would see the attempt of the previous president, Martin Lyn, seeking re election, answering the call of some members to challenge the incumbent leader who has used (on two previous occasions) constitutional and technical reasons to deny a vote of no-confidence by disgruntled members on the continuation of his presidency.
A recurring feature of leadership in sporting organisations in Jamaica is the fact that it is usually an unpaid job, it is time consuming, and it affords the incumbent, prestige, trips abroad at someone else's expense, and other perks unmentionable in a newspaper article. The fight for the position at election time can, in fact, become physical, as has happened in cricket, and personal character assassinations seem to be par for the course. Then when results are poor, and members begin to show buyer's remorse, the constant cry of the president or leader is either "I am not paid to do this, you know", or "I just can't find the time". facts that were freely available BEFORE deciding to seek election.
Then, when the calls for removal reaches previously unheard of decibels, technicalities, constitutional reasons, lawyers, and downright falsehoods and snide allegations against the character of those brave enough to ask for a change, become the norm. In one regional organisation where support from the elected government of a member organisation is vital for the continued development of the sport, the incumbent uses frequent and expensive methods to prolong his time in office. I have often recommended that presidents of local sporting organisations be salaried up to $5 million annually, or some other reasonable figure, and be given a written mandate of performance criteria, with the proviso that failure to perform, will result in instant dismissal.
The people (sportsmen and women) of this little Caribbean island have proven time and time again, that our inborn talent and skill at the sport of their choice NEEDS parent federations led by patriotic leaders who have the development of our local inhabitants and their welfare at heart, and not what now passes for leadership a Trump-like, response to criticism, and the support of fellow leaders who seem scared of losing their subservient but perky positions if the present leader is deposed. Jamaica deserves the best that the country has to offer, as leaders, so that the best that the country has to offer as sportsmen and sportswomen can flourish.