An athlete representing country automatically becomes an informal ambassador of the homeland, so why then that such a carrier of the nation’s flag and image be made to scrounge for a living when back home?
That’s the question members of Barbados’ world ranked netball team and their fraternity are asking because too many of their own have long been left in the wilderness of the unemployed and find life difficult when away from the playing court.
“We have several national players who are unemployed. They rise to fame for the two weeks that Barbados is in competition and they are quickly forgotten when the competition ends,” said longstanding president of the Barbados Netball Association (BNA) Nisha Craigwell.
“There should never be a case where someone has represented their country at the highest level, especially for an extended period but then struggle to put food on their table for their family. It is a great injustice and too often I see this scenario played out before me.”
Craigwell’s choice remarks came Sunday as this association with a team, ‘Bajan Gems’, that holds a world ranking of number 12, held its awards ceremony, merely two months before its 45th anniversary as an association.
Appealing for support from corporate Barbados, Craigwell noted, “our beloved Bajan Gems are world-class athletes who just require some additional resources to get them to the next level. Give them the respect that they truly deserve”.
Neglect of sports personalities who battled for their country is sadly a common story across the Caribbean, and gives reason to a recent statement by Jamaican Sports Administrator, Dr. Michael Fennell.
In a report carried by Caribbean Life, Fennell said in chiding CARICOM heads of government, “when you look at the status of sports in the Caribbean and what we are doing about the development of sports, I am very concerned. I am concerned because although we have done well and continue to do well, it is almost by accident because we have not truly invested in sports in the Caribbean”.