Coventry lays down the law

Kirsty Coventry

MINISTER of Sport, Arts and Recreation Kirsty Coventry, yesterday held no punches as she read the riot act on most ailing sports associations in the country.

Speaking at a programme launch by the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) at the National Sports Stadium, the minister revealed new rules and regulations, which she hopes will improve the state of sport in the country.

Chief amongst those is a new provision that will ban athletes from competing at Olympic events provided they have not represented the country at least three years prior to the Olympic event.

The move is meant to curb the influx of foreign-based athletes and sportmen out to exploit the country at these huge events, and bring some order in the selection process.

“We need to work on being more purposeful in the way we do things as opposed to the way we are right now, which is all over the place,” said the minister

“There is no formal structure, like in the way associations look for funding.

“They (Associations) apply to SRC, SRC applies to Government and what I found out is that some of these requests are one-off requests, and sometimes they do not really lead to anything.

“In athletics, we have sent a marathon runner to the Olympic games for as long as I can remember and they have secured a place in the top 15 numerous times, that should be what we focus on, not necessarily athletics as a whole.” she said.

She also highlighted how some athletes only appear at big events and dissappear soon after.

The Minister said she will also introduce a new criterion that will see the various federations cast into different tiers, when it comes to funding.

While the grading system is still at the discussion phase, the tier system will differentiate the amounts and types of funding to be allocated by Government.

“We need to come up with a criterion that will sort our federations into different tiers and the tier systems are not there to shut anyone out, but to encourage the associations to move up.

“We will have a situation that a top tier gets a specific amount, likewise the other tiers and as we move up the tiers, the funding increases,” said the Minister.

She urged sports associations to submit their 10-year plans; citing various programmes that they will run on talent identification and promotion of sport at lower levels.

The minister emphasized on the need for associations to work with Sports and Recreation Commission in programmes meant to better educate and support national associations as a way for the Commission to plough back.

“Again, this is to show that the role of SRC is not there to be the big bad person that causes havoc or takes levies- but does not give anything back- but I’m hoping that this national sports strategy will be great.”

The Ministry is currently working together with Local Government on the revival of sports infrastructure and easy access to the facilities.

Minister Coventry also spoke against venue holders charging exorbitant amounts for venue access, urging local government to ensure that sports facilities are used for their rightful purposes.