Most people believe that sport administrators live a life sipping champagne, munching on caviar and operating in and out of five-star hotels. That may be so for some, but certainly not the case in the majority of instances. For all the backslapping, there are many times when it seems that the effort of time and energy, particularly for those whose interest is service, just does not make any sense—it’s almost an exercise in futility.
What’s behind the sense of duty that motivates people involved in sport administration? Sometimes the frustration and effort to get things done, can be overwhelming.
Recently I had the misfortune of involuntarily parting ways with my passport somewhere in Miami International Airport. The following three days were experiences that spanned the myriad of human emotions.
That there were two events that I dearly wanted to attend at home in T&T, only added to my frustration. Not for all the tea in China could I understand the dread behaviour of the goodly lady whom I encountered at the T&T consulate on Brickell Avenue, downtown Miami. With service like that, I could not help but wonder why she was allowed any where close to dealing with people.
Luckily for me, her colleague, Mrs Ramlal took over on day two of my Miami odyssey and did yeoman service in restoring my faith and that of my Caribbean colleague, Alphonso Bridgewater, president of the St Kitts and Nevis Olympic Committee, in service.
Having witnessed the unsympathetic treatment the day before, Bridgewater’s impression of the T&T consulate could not be favourable. But one bad apple soon made way and was replaced by a bright, red one. Mrs Ramlal’s intervention ultimately showed what true service was about, although it did not soften the effect of my missing two vital events here at home.
The first was the clash between the Soca Warriors and USA in the World Cup qualifier at the Hasely Crawford Stadium. No passport, couldn’t leave Miami! So be it.
The other event I dearly wanted to attend was much more meaningful and closer to my heart. It was the inaugural Hall of Achievement induction and dinner of the Fatima Old Boys Association held on November 18 at the Anchorage, Chaguaramas. That it was the first ever induction made it a special occasion, not to mention, of course, that I am a proud Fatima Old Boy. But alas, service indifference put paid to my being present.
The honour roll at Fatima was distinguished by Bishops Jason Gordon and Robert Llanos, late Archbishop Anthony Pantin and a diversity of contributors to T&T, including Ato Boldon, Brian Lara, Everard Cummings, Alvin Corneal, Michael Joey Carew, to name a few. The Fatima Old Boys Association also celebrated its golden anniversary.
I have said many times Fatima was very influential in my life, even though I attended St Anthony's College for one year.
So profound was the impact that I will forever hold significant loyalty and fondness for Fatima. Missing both events for reasons I felt were unnecessary led me to reflect on certain aspects of T&T. Our tolerance of poor and mediocre service on one hand even when we know better must and can be done, is one. Another is the importance of our education system and how impactful it can be negatively or positively.
T&T and its people can at times be a perplexing enigma, complex while at the same time simple. Who are we? What does it mean to be a Trinbagonian? What forms and shapes who we are? As 20,000 spectators watched the T&T football team battle to a draw with USA, what fuelled the feelings of pride? Was it patriotism or was it simply an occasion to lime and have a good time?
There are times when you can’t escape the feeling that we are not taking nation building seriously and that we are happy to simply go along. The sad thing is that there is so much more that we can do. Everyone will have experiences that inform and shape us in word, thought and deed.
Indeed, it is in striving we conquer. But sometimes when adversity crops up and makes things worse than it should be, it is a bitter pill to swallow. Nevertheless, we must strive on. One day it will all come together in the name of service. And it is to that day that we should all aspire!
•Brian Lewis is president of the T&T Olympic Committee ( TTOC ). The views expressed are not necessarily those of the Olympic Committee.