by Rae Roberts
May 27, 2013
Let me begin this column by admitting that I was tardy in submitting my nomination paper as a candidate for the presidency of the Grenada Olympic Committee (GOC) at its Annual General Meeting last Saturday at the National stadium. The truth is I went to the office hurriedly because I had to accompany a vacationing sister and her friend from England on a trip around the island.
Nevertheless, after signing and filing the nomination form I was assured by the office that the constitution does not require the endorsement of a national federation or two. For almost weeks the General Secretary Veda Bruno-Victor advertised the list of candidates for each position which conveyed the impression that we all were eligible. My name, Ray Roberts was paired with Royston La Hee to contest the office of President. Low and behold, two minutes before the meeting was called to order on Saturday, I was called by the Returning Officer Victor Ashby and informed that I am disqualified because I did not meet the requirements of the endorsement of at least two federations.
I felt betrayed! The question I ask myself “couldn’t the General Secretary instruct the office to call and inform me that my nomination papers had problems? Or having discovered such the day after nomination disqualify my application rather than promoting me as a candidate in the media and on the day of the meeting humiliate and embarrass me!
Two weeks before the elections, our executive met and I said to my colleagues that I am reliably informed that agents were campaigning to remove me and therefore I will contest the presidency.
Ironically, the other four members of the executive Royston La Hee, Veda Bruno-Victor, Lucy Steele and Kingsley Ashby were all nominated by the Athletic Association and seconded by the Boxing Association. Charles George who was voted out in 2008 was unopposed on this occasion and was nominated and seconded by the said two associations, and most interesting Ralph James, the president of the Boxing Association was also nominated and seconded by the same two groups and was elected Second Vice president.
Highly interesting, both Steele and Ashby who came from the Swimming Association when they were elected more than a decade ago did not have the nomination of their federation for this AGM.
Of the five members on the outgoing executive I was the only one challenge and subsequently disqualified. Two of the six re–elected officers La Hee and Bruno-Victor at the end of this term in 2017 will have served 34 years each on the executive, while Lucy Steel and Ashby would have served almost two decades.
I take comfort in the fact that the majority of the national associations at the AGM were sympathetic and encouraged my continued involvement and I thank them for their solidarity. Equally important I appreciated the manner in which Returning Officer Victor Ashby handled the issue, indicating that the matter should have been handled differently.
Clearly, the Olympic Committee is at the cross roads and is challenged to be more inclusive. No one can question the hard work done by the General Secretary; however, she has to take stock and realize that her magnificent contribution does not give her the right of ownership.
In his acceptance speech, President La Hee made it clear that he does not have a divine right to be president and accepted that he could be challenged. I hope that echo rebound to the other members of the executive. In private conversations many federation leaders and members perceive the Grenada Olympic Committee as a private and exclusive country club.
Why they perceive such, for example, the original meeting agenda included Minutes and Audited Financial statements, but none was presented in the meeting. The power of being Permanent Secretary and General Secretary of the Olympic Committee does allow one to determine who gets what and who pays a prize, nevertheless, people are smart.
In conclusion, the respective national federations must take some blame for domination of the GOC by a handful of people. It is a million dollar organization and it belongs to all! In fact, I understand that it has almost two million dollars in the bank to build its headquarters. I wish the President and his executive the very best and looking forward to four years of significant progress.
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