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posted 8 Dec 2015, 02:05 by Gerry Kangalee
An invitation to attend the International Congress of Science and Football 2016 came in my e-mail last November. As a participant in the last Sport conference put on by U.W.I in 2014 I am on the mailing list of many of delegates. I also communicate with Dr. Jay Coakley, Professor Emeritus at the University of Colorado who has effectively debunked all the prevailing myths about sport being the last bastion of national and international unity and solidarity; of individuals and nations being illumined and experiencing catharsis on the field of play and our noblest and finest instincts for fair play rising to the surface under these banners.

No thank you, my chorus of potential sponsors. I am not attending nor am I campaigning for office in the Ministry or a governing body. It is just that as I continue to be exposed directly and indirectly to how sport is organised and run I become more and more aware of how much needs to be done here at home if we are to develop past the perennial eruptions in the local governing bodies and not prolong our Kodak moments.

What was a Kodak moment and why does it no longer exist? Kodak was the by-word, the brand leader in film technology: Kodak colour, Kodachrome, Polaroid. Kodak defined film technology in the way FIFA defined football; so much so that Kodak was a leader in the transitional research to digital photography. How significant a shift was this? Long ago you took 36 shots on film, took it into a dark room or a commercial studio, waited for it to develop and made paper prints. In the studio it took 3 days and if you took a poor shot it was lost. A digital camera does all I have described in seconds. Shooting, developing and you can edit in camera.

Kodak did not see this new technology developing significantly and is today virtually non-existent in the world of digital media. The comparison suggests that our local federations and government ministries are ‘taking photos today with Kodak cameras.' I look at the organisers and the agendas and I recognise who are the who's who are the persons behind the Sepp Blatters and Seb Coes and who are not behind David Cameron of West Indian cricket or whose help newly elected President of the local football federation will surely need.

The conference takes place at the University of Valenciennes et du Hainaut in France. In association with the International Society of Sport and Sciences in the Arab World. Will recent events in Paris derail it? I doubt that very much. 36 countries have already registered. New considerations re 'security et al' will enter of course. The plenary sessions are:

  • Economics and football 
  • Media 
  • Architecture 
  • Decision and Arbitration 
  • Crisis management 
None of the above will be presented by managers of ex-premier league players per se.

I write this against the backdrop of the fiasco in local cricket administration, the end of the Jack Warner era marked by Mr Tim Kee's departure and pending constitutional reform in track and field and against the news of the planned refurbishment of the Brian Lara stadium; for what reason? I cannot think of a legitimate one. We already have the Queens Park Oval, UWI SPEC playing field, the Balmain cricket centre. Why another?: because this is Trinidad/Tobago and rather than fix the numerous abandoned and neglected facilities in schools and communities the decision is to go for the mega-project. $90m. to re-furbish? That is seed money. They now start.

This decision perfectly reflects the old capitalist, corrupt way of thinking. The mega project be it the World Cup of football or cricket, the Olympics or such 'sports tourist' events which leave in their wake ghost stadia, displaced people of the working class, huge government debt, and of course new local millionaires.

Give yourself a treat dear reader. Start at the Tarouba Stadium and head north. You will see the new cycling and swimming facility which virtually adjoin the new "Children's Hospital”. Literally adjacent is the Ato Boldon stadium, head office of the local track and field association, where the track is bald is large areas. Along a stretch of 15 miles maybe there are 3 mega projects for sport, one for health which will be grossly under-utilised. Oh the Dwight Yorke Stadium is under repair for about 2-3 years now!

But I am alive and learning as the old folks would say. The world movement in sport is changing, re-arranging and re-inventing itself. Where a country stands in this context depends on the awareness and enlightenment of its leaders; their willingness to study the phenomena of change in the social environments where sport resides and impacts. Do we go digital or stay Kodak?