Of sport and 100% calypso

Today's WomanI begin this week’s article by saying a thank you on behalf of the mothers who have children registered with the Sports Council Summer Camp for keeping our children in Barbados safe and engaged over six weeks. The Sports Council Camp celebrates 30 years of service this year and, as with most of the positively functional elements of Government programmes, it is a well-kept secret.

The National Sports Council’s summer camp programme is a well-administered one that imparts sporting techniques to children between the ages of eight and 16. Prior to 2000, the camp included children of all ages; but the decision was made that in order for the camp to be streamlined to meet its primary goal a downward age limit would be established.

The primary objective of the camp is to offer scouting opportunities in various disciplines as a means for feeding talent into the various national federations.

Each year, the council endeavours to add to the camp a new discipline which is not offered in the standard school programme.

Campers are exposed to disciplines such as golf, squash and karate. The sport which was added this year was rugby
(a discipline in which we recently exported talent).

The Sports Council Camp model is one which should be researched and documented. From the registration process, to the types of educational tours done, to the way that children are grouped and taught the disciplines, much about what is happening is best practice. Additionally, I think we can consider a few bullet points to streamline the camp even more:

In the same way we have had discussion about a compulsory National Youth Service, we need to have a talk on making attendance at the Sports Council Summer Camp mandatory. If we are serious about battling non-communicable diseases,
then we can only see the soft drink tax as a rudderless ship in an ocean of other policies.

All Barbadian child should have to complete the camp at least once. Each child will obviously not be scouted as talent for development; but being exposed to various sporting disciplines should be reinforced at an early age as a part of a healthy lifestyle.  Children would also be encouraged to have a greater respect for their friends who are sportspeople; and much like children gifted in sports are emerged in academic environments during the school year, the camp would allow children who are otherwise gifted to be immersed
in other environments.

Since the national federations benefit from talent scouting through the Government-subsidized Sports Council porgramme, they should be required to commit to a strategy for development of the talent. Children are scouted and recruited through the Summer Camp programme, but some disciplines do not have structured programmes or coaches to invest in developing the talent identified.

Without closing this gap, Barbados will be no closer to the goal outlined in the Growth And Development Strategy to explore the sports sector for its income generation potential.

Sports, as an international endeavour, is shielded from the intervention of political influence. This has assisted the Sports Council Camp to be the best model that it is.  That point needs to be made; and, going forward, we must seek to ensure that the exclusivity fostered between sports and politics is remodelled to benefit other boards and Government activity on the island.

On the second issue occupying my attention . . . . Apparently, you can only be a good nation builder if you support local calypso music and the playing of 100 per cent soca during this time of the year.

Since the establishment of this criterion, I have had to drop back in rank to a mere concerned and bothered citizen, with no hope of ever becoming a nation builder, because I am not a soca lover; and I am quite offended by having to suffer through a 100 per cent soca season yearly.    

Barbadian soca/calypso music is crass. It sounds to my untrained ear as though it is often poorly produced, and I do not enjoy having to be subjected to it on a radio station all throughout the day.

It is never safe to describe an entire industry or body of items in one blanket statement, for there are some yearly contributions to the Barbadian soca/calypso arena that are tasteful and timeless. It is not, however, by any stretch of the imagination any 75, or I would daresay even 50 per cent, of the music produced yearly.

The uptempo nature of soca/calypso makes for jarring listening in a 100 per cent format. Whereas on a normal day one can look forward to radio deejays addressing various moods and issues using a wide playlist of music, everything is reduced to telling the female what to do with her anatomy over and over during the 100 per cent soca season.  Even if there were soca/calypso songs praising Jah, it would still be hard to appreciate the poundings and high pace of that praise at 4:30 in the morning while trying to catch a vibe.

Perhaps soca/calypso can be integrated more fully with the Season Of Emancipation to create events for consumption for varied audiences. Even if this is done, I still do not see the need for 100 per cent radio formats.

While I am glad that Barbadian artistes get royalties at this time of year, I also want Jamaican artistes to get royalties. I am sure that by far the Trinidadian artistes are outperforming the Bajans with their royalties at this time of year. And thank goodness for the Trinidadian soca/calypso that injects a level of bearability to the 100 per cent soca/calypso melee.

Trinidadian soca/calypso has a wider topic covering, and the standard of production and quality to an untrained ear seems better. Then again, I accept it may be an unfair comparison, because Trinidad is reaping the benefits of years of a planned and well-executed cultural industry, while we in Barbados are still at the stage of talking cultural industry.

I am somewhat disappointed that I will never be in the category of nation builder because I do not go for the 100 per cent soca. What about you, though? Are you appreciative of the 100 per cent soca season?

(Marsha Hinds-Layne is a full-time mummy and part-time lecturer in communications at the University of the West Indies. Email mhindslayne@gmail.com)

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