By Neto Baptiste
National track coach and former athlete, Carl Casey, believes athletes seeking funding from Antigua and Barbuda’s National Olympic Committee (NOC) are often left frustrated over what he has described as a painstaking process that is designed to favour some and not others.
The often outspoken figure said it is alarming that in 2020, the same issues that plagued him as an athlete more than two decades ago are still very present in the sport today.
“When it comes to helping our athletes, there is too much red tape and it is not their money, and that is the thing that is killing me, so I can’t be frustrated anymore because I know how this system works. So, now, most of the times, it just flies over my head and when people see me walking they would ask why I don’t buy a car — I just say to them that I like to walk because is walk I walk off my frustration most of the time,” he said.
“A lot of people won’t like me because I am very straight and I am telling you that the way they have been disrespecting these athletes — I know there are athletes who are getting funding now from the NOC, and they don’t have substance like Jess,” he added.
Casey went on to remind those in authority that it takes more than just promises to propel athletes to the next level.
“We like to make promises and when it is time to step up, we can’t step up. Jamaica just released $14 million to help their athletes prepare for the Olympics, so what is our NOC and our association doing?” the coach asked.
“Do you know what it takes to fund a world class athlete, maybe a sprinter? How can you tell a man who is your national record holder who gave you a budget and let’s say it’s $50 for the coaching fee, maybe $75 for massage and therapy, $50 for room and board, $50 for meals and you just tell him no, we can’t help you but you don’t even say, ‘okay, we are willing to pay your coaching fee’, and that is the thing that is going on,” he said.
Speaking on the backdrop of news that national shot-put athlete Jess St John may choose to switch allegiance after over a year of funding woes, Casey highlighted the still uncompleted YASCO Sports Complex as a blemish on the administrators and a setback for young athletes.
“St Lucia just started a track and they are finished; St Vincent started a track and they are finished, so where are we? Still at square one and we are hearing all sorts of shenanigans and all kinds of ignorance. It’s been three years since we haven’t had inter-schools, three or four years since we haven’t had a national championships and we’ve lost five years of our junior athletes. There is a young man trying to go off to MVP club in Jamaica who trains with the Director of Sports [Heather Samuel Daley] and he can’t get some assistance; that is what we have in this country,” he said.
St John, in a recent interview with Observer Radio, expressed frustration over what she said has become a lengthy and tiresome process of trying to secure funding from the NOC. The athlete said she could seek to switch allegiance to either the USVI, her country of birth, or the USA.