IT has become rather perplexing that, in spite of the jelling of the West Indies cricket team, the nations of the Caribbean refuse to use this model for all sports. This issue has been mooted from time to time in various Caribbean media starting almost two decades ago but has never been addressed by Caribbean governments, sporting bodies and Caricom. In the 2016 Olympics, the English speaking Caribbean tallied 17 medals. In 2012 that number was 43.

A West Indies football team stands a chance of competing internationally and possibly winning medals in a way that none of the territorial teams do. Ditto for any other team sports. In athletics a West Indies team can bring home a ignificant number of medals from various world games, the Olympics and so on, especially given that powerhouse Jamaica will be supplemented by the best of Bahamas, Trinidad and Tobago and the other nations.

There are also other reasons for West Indian participation as a single entity in the international sports arena. For one its much more cost effective since instead of large numbers of officials that accompany the various teams, there will be one set of officials at any given time and trips for the boys or girls would have been eliminated. As well we have seen how cricket brings us together, even as we debate, argue and “diss’’ at the national level in seeking to claim the superiority of our countries’ teams. This level of coming together on the one hand and bantering on the other across the Caribbean will become multiplied with each new West Indian birthed and this can only be healthy for Caribbeanness. As well, besides expanding that glue keeping us together, other West Indian teams can also ensure that cream rises to the top and become internationally sought after while those just below strive to get to the top a la in cricket.

As former West Indies Davis Cup player, Ian MacDonald pointed out almost two decades ago “For 30 years, from 1953 to 1983, there was one other united West Indian sports team: the West Indies Davis Cup tennis team. I know this well, since I played with extreme pride in the very first match for the West Indies, in their tie against the United States in Jamaica in 1953, and later captained West Indies Davis Cup teams with even greater pride in the 1960s. I think it was a tragedy that the West Indian Tennis Association meekly accepted a sudden ruling by the International Lawn Tennis Federation in 1983 that the West Indies, not constituting a country by their rules, could no longer play in the Davis Cup as a united team. Since 1983, there have been a number of years when a West Indian team drawing on the tennis talents of all the region’s countries would have done extremely well in the Davis Cup.”

And like cricket, other sports can bring international tournaments to the Caribbean and overall economic benefits including boosting tourism and putting the Caribbean on the global stage as cricket is doing. Consequently there will also be more money to develop sports, including building needed infrastructure and maximising use of currently available ones.

I quote Mr MacDonald again: “I cannot understand why more thought has not been given to organising sports other than cricket on a pan-West Indian basis. Nor can I understand why there has not been more debate on this issue in the Caribbean media. A West Indian presence as one nation in the Olympics, the Commonwealth Games, the Pan-American Games, the Davis Cup (again), the World Cups in soccer and rugby, and other world and regional events, is infinitely worth pursuing. As West Indians draw closer together, we cannot afford to neglect the tremendous emotional charge that can be derived from grassroots identification with sporting teams embracing all of us as one.”

And while some international sports bodies, as pointed out above, will claim that the West Indies cannot participate as one team since it’s a conglomeration of nations, unified West Indian sports teams can fight this, and more likely than not win out, especially given that Caricom does reflect a “one team” concept in many ways.

Annan Boodram

via e-mail

RECOMMENDED FOR YOU

April to May 2021 has been the most significant turning point for Trinidad and Tobago (T&T) regarding the Covid-19 pandemic. About month after the Easter frolic, we have reached the highest recorded numbers of cases per day since the start of this pandemic in March of 2020.

Already assailed from the outside by overwhelming demand from Covid-19 patients, the public health system is showing signs of internal cracking.

Saturday’s announcement by the South West Regional Health Authority (SWRHA) of the “temporary suspension” of “all hospitals and in-person (face-to-face) services”, except pre-natal and childhood immunisation, triggered waves of anxiety throughout south Trinidad.

AN oft-forgotten definition of sadism found in any dictionary is “the getting of pleasure from inflicting physical or psychological pain on another or others”.

Irresponsible behaviour is not only about disregarding pandemic guidelines but also the seeming “sickness” of some who derive morbid pleasure from the unfortunate affliction of others, whether through contracting the Covid-19 virus or having friends and family die from it. Individually or organisationally, such unwelcome attitudes affect all.

I have awoken to the truly sad news of the passing of one of this country’s and the region’s greatest medical doctors and scientists, Prof Courtenay Bartholomew. I am filled with grief, for he was one of the greatest influences in my medical career, a mentor and true friend.

I reflect on the people of our rainbow country and on our apparent problems conforming to the instructions issued by our Government whose members are pleading with us for help in trying to beat the spread and destruction of the novel coronavirus. Indeed, you can call our perceived attitude foolish, selfish, uncaring, lawlessness, don’t-give-a-damn or possibly all of the above, but the end result of your choice of attitude may have you facing what you may not want or expect.

Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh’s cheap theatrics fools no one. According to Deyalsingh, he was driven to tears when he saw someone drinking alcohol in public during Covid-19. He was so moved that he had to pull his car aside and cry, one tear.