I like to say to my youngest daughter that I want to give her chances to succeed, not to fail. Jamaica seems hell-bent on doing just the opposite. I read yesterday a report about one of our premier athletes, a Taekwando fighter, Nicholas Dusard. He’s been caught up in a controversy about whether he should have been nominated for ‘sportsperson of the year’ honours. The national federation was up in arms that he’d not been nominated. Now, he has come forward to tell a bit more of the story, which is basically that the national federation have been neglecting, even hampering, his progress. Here’s the story briefly.
Dusard won gold at the 2013 International Sport Kickboxing Association World Championships in North Cyprus, in November 2013. But, he says he has suffered years of neglect by the body responsible for national sporting honours despite his achievements on martial arts mats all over the world. In other words, he had succeeded DESPITE lack of support.
In his words, “I was barred from representing Jamaica at the World Taekwando Federation (WTF) World Champs in 2013 despite being a WTF black belt and having full sponsorship, just because I could not attend a five-day training camp in Boston, in May, at my expense.”
Why did he have to go abroad to get national assessment? Jamaica Taekwon-Do Federation (JTF) president Chris Chok confirmed that Dusard was omitted due to his not attending the Boston camp, which, Chok said, was a necessity. He added: “We appointed a coach who had a dojo in Boston. We took up this opportunity to train there to evaluate the guys. We already had four athletes representing Jamaica in Boston. Would it be fair for them to come to Jamaica to train?” Chok also said, “Yes, he would have to travel at his expense because we don’t have that amount of funds.”
So, our premier athlete in a sport was forced to go abroad at his expense to meet the needs of an appointed national coach based abroad. These are IMPOSITIONS, if you make them necessities. The national federation claiming poverty as part of its rationale is just laughable.
In making strategic decisions do leaders in Jamaica ask themselves some basic questions?
- Is what I am doing really necessary?
- Is what I am doing truly reasonable?
- Is what I am doing helping to develop that for which I am in charge?
- How will what I am doing appear to a neutral person?
If they are and coming up with good answers, then let me be silent. But, let’s just put the Dusard case simply in a different context. Imagine if our national athletic association decided to appoint a coach who was based abroad. Would it seem reasonable, sensible and good for development to have as the ONLY OPTION our top athlete(s) go to his/her training facility AT THEIR EXPENSE? Would we refuse them the chance to be assessed locally?
We have to stop these processes that set us up to fail rather than to succeed. Our talent is an asset that is being wasted all too readily. We are not investing properly and our priorities are skewed, and we will rue this because we cannot develop without investment, in the economy and its people. Either we’ve been crabs in the barrel so long that we do not know that we can do things otherwise, or we somehow get perverse pleasure from constantly shooting ourselves in the foot.