By Carlena Knight
National Olympic Committee (NOC) President Chet Greene believes that the time has come for the twin-island nation to re-evaluate several of its sporting programs if the country is to truly contend for an Olympic medal.
Greene outlined that there are a number of areas where he sees changes can be made in order to help the nation’s athletes reach their full potential.
Although he agrees that more exchange programs with larger more successful countries should happen, he believes that an even greater approach must be taken.
“I think the time has come that we look at, not a change wholesale, but an introduction of new talent in that area. The coaches we have have been around for a while. They are getting on in age; like we all are, and so, if we are thinking about the sustainability and continuity of our athletes’ development program in Antigua and Barbuda, then we also have to look at the skillsets we have available,” Greene said.
“Training coaches overseas, yes, is one of the areas, but I think more than that of training coaches overseas is the whole introduction of new talents into this space. I want to be very clear; I want to be very professional; I want to be very direct by saying this is not about berating those who have served, because they gave of their best. It is more about the vision for sustainable sports in Antigua and Barbuda, and in thankfulness I make this comment for those who have served,” Greene explained.
He mentioned that not only should there be an addition of new local coaches, but also that some athletes may have to see themselves moving to new camps and surrounding themselves with more experienced and successful coaches.
“We are of the opinion that some of these athletes need to be moved from their current coaching regimes and into more established recognized coaching regimes, because again, it is about results. When you go to these games, it’s not about Antigua and Barbuda just being represented or participating, it’s about Antigua and Barbuda being competitive,” Greene said.
“Let’s take young Joella Lloyd. There is no doubt that Miss Lloyd is a supreme and excellent talent, but that alone will not take her past the finish line, or to medal, or to show that there were improvements that would make all of Antigua and Barbuda feel, ‘Hey, we arrived’. I’ll make the observation too that we are one of the nations in the region that is yet to have an Olympic medal, and I make no apologies in stating that the next round of investments in our athletes will be with that in mind,” he added.
“We have been having conversations with Cejhae Greene and his coach yes, nice guy; I have spoken to him, love him to death, but more than him, I love Cejhae Greene and this country and I believe Cejhae Greene has more to offer than he has so far offered. Cejhae Greene, in this trimester, will have to render significant improvements in his performances if he is going to medal, and if he is going to have athletics as a career path to go to the Diamond Leagues and the Ivy Leagues and all of these different leagues around the world. He would have showed a level of improvement, and I am saying maybe the time has come – the time has come for a conversation–and maybe the time has come for us to look at putting Cejhae Green and his future development in the country’s interest under a more established program and coaching regime,” Greene declared.
Greene expounded on the importance of revitalizing the one vibrant sporting culture in the nation.
“If we are going to be honest with ourselves, we have slipped quite a bit in our sporting culture between the 1970’s, 80’s, 90’s and now the 2000’s and so now, we have to build back that sort of sporting culture. Our differences within sports in Antigua and Barbuda is too personal. We are not fighting sports differences from a point of view of technical knowledge or anything of that nature. It’s always about somebody don’t like somebody; you don’t need that, you cannot grow a program like that, you can’t get a country advanced with that kind of behaviour, and so we need to build that strong sporting culture predicating on respect, predicating on the desire of this nation to advance its athletes and its international profile through sports,” he added.
Greene was speaking recently on the Good Morning JoJo Sports show.