By E. Glenford Prescott
Track coach Michael “Mercy” Ollivierre is confident that the future of track and field in St. Vincent and the Grenadines is bright and has the potential to unleash quality athletes on the world stage once the systems are in place and the right personnel are employed to work with the young athletes.
He was speaking to I-Witness News at the end of another session of his Summer Athletics Programme at the Arnos Vale Playing Field, where close to 40 young athletes attended the sessions daily. Ollivierre said that the programme was geared towards not only improving the ability of the athlete on track but also assisting with their personal development.
“And we have been moving to this by bringing in certain persons to talk to them on various topics with a view to helping them to learn from the experience of these persons,” he said.
Ollivierre said that his main objective in putting on such a programme is not to prey on young athletes to build on his ITDAT Club complement of athletes but to contribute to the development of the sport. He said that the atmosphere is more of a family gathering where “respect, honesty and discipline” are the tenets of the operations.
He said the parents and guardians are not left out of the system since regular contact is made with them to get or pass on relevant information.
”We welcome everyone, but you must be prepared to be part of the rules of this camp and then we are good to go. If you are not a disciplined person, then you will find difficult to achieve success. And yes, I know some people would be quick to point out some top sportsmen who were ill-disciplined and reached the top but they never saw when they prematurely returned to ground level,” Ollivierre pointed out.
He said the summer camp has athletes from as far as North Leeward and South Rivers, and, where possible, they are given some assistance with transportation and fruits were provided daily.
Ollivierre said his greatest desire is to see all the coaches developing a working relationship that would move in the best interest of the athletes since, according to him, infighting by coaches could only see the athletes and the sport being the victims.
“I have nothing against any coach and will work with anybody once their work ethics and practices are in the best interest of the advancement of the sport”.
He said his philosophy has always been “the athlete then whatever else” but it is very important for athletes to be exposed to proper coaching at a very young age so that their development would be smooth and systematic.