By Neto Baptiste
President of the Antigua and Barbuda Athletics Association (ABAA), Everton Cornelius, has called for a holistic approach in solving the funding issued faced by not just national track and field athletes but by all who aspire to don national colours
Speaking amidst ongoing debate regarding the inadequacies of existing funding structures, Cornelius said there is a need for serious dialogue between the major stakeholders as to the importance of funding for national athletes and the mechanisms needed to ensure available finances are disbursed in an effective manner.
“We are asking young men and women to give up their livelihood, give up their profession and train to represent us, and we don’t want to assist them financially. I am not talking about the little pocket change we want to get them for the Olympic solidarity scholarship and maybe I [athletics association] could send them a US $500 ever so often because it takes a lot more than that. This needs the intervention of the government. The government needs to be a part of all this,” he said.
Two national athletes in sprinter Daniel Bailey and shot-putter Jess St. John, recently called on both the government and the NOC to place more emphasis on the funding and or preparation of athletes ahead of major meets.
Bailey accused the government of not supporting him throughout his career, while announcing that his recent request for assistance had been turned down by the NOC while St. John claimed that her pleas for support have gone unanswered.
Cornelius warns that sports is a global business which requires investment by all involved.
“We need to understand that if we are serious about the sport or serious about any sport in Antigua that it takes money to keep your athletes at the highest level and we will have to determine, not just as an association, an NOC but as a country, exactly how we view sports because today it’s a business, this is no playing,” he said.
Cornelius, in previous interviews, had said that the athletics association is not in a position to fund all athletes and those seeking NOC assistance much channel their requests through the association.