By Neto Baptiste
Former national and Leeward Islands cricketer, Zorol Barthley, has suggested the need for a clear division between sports and politics and the role of politicians within sporting organisations.
His call comes on the heels of public banter between national sprinter, Daniel Bailey, and sports minister, Daryll Matthew, over funding for athletes representing the twin-island state.
Barthley, who was also president of the local cricket association, called the public banter distasteful, adding that it highlighted the need for the implementation of clear guidelines and policies.
“Here you have two athletes and if they have an issue with the athletics association and they decided to elevate it to the next level, let’s say to the Ministry of Sports, there is minister Matthew to deal with there. If they elevate it to the NOC then there is Minister Matthew and Minister Greene to deal with there,” he said.
“Now, let’s suppose those two athletes who may be from the Prime Minister’s [Gaston Browne] constituency and they decide they take it to their representative to try and elevate it to the next level and he then takes it for a Cabinet discussion, you still have the same parties at all levels, so it sort of clouds judgment going forward. It is probably a stage where we ought to look to see if it is the best thing for the ministers to be at that micro level and still at the next level,” he added.
Bailey, holder of the national record in the 100 meters of 9.91 seconds, had said the government offered no financial support during his track and field career and while he had represented the country at numerous international games.
Mathew then sought to debunk the athlete’s claims, stating that Bailey received a stipend after he was given a role as sports ambassador in 2009, an accusation the sprinter later sought to clarify, stating the stipend was not considered part of any assistance towards his track and field career.
“It really does not sound good, it does no good to anybody, and I think what it does is kind of highlights the need and the role the NOC has to play with regards to sports, and not only track & field but the NOC has responsibility for other sports,” he said. Bailey represented Antigua and Barbuda at the 2004 Summer Olympics, the 2006 Commonwealth Games, the 2008 Summer Olympics, the 2012 Summer Olympics and the 2014 Commonwealth Games.