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Offline Tallman

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Spirit willing, flesh weak
« on: January 18, 2012, 06:40:35 AM »
Spirit willing, flesh weak
By Andre E. Baptiste (T&T Guardian)


Given all the events in football worldwide and the increasing problems in local football, I decided to resurrect an article I wrote in the year 2000, which, had people not only listened to the then Pope – John Paul II, but also myself, many of the current problems would not exist.

It is interesting to note that the Pope was perceptive enough to realise the dangers existing in football at the time and somehow tried to ensure that there was some control. The fact that history will show that his astuteness together with my pointing the fingers at CONCACAF and the T&T Football Federation was correct, is only important if it will teach future and perhaps some current leaders in sports that there is a way forward if only they will listen to others and not believe they know everything.

So here’s a Dancing Brave column from July 2000. In May this year, Pope John Paul II who is now 79, and was a goalkeeper according to reports on his career, spoke out on football. The Pope no longer plays football—the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak—but is said to be an enthusiastic follower of the Vatican City football league, which must be the smallest national league in the world. John Paul II preached a sermon on the evils of football to the top men in UEFA (European Football Association), a lesser version of the really corrupt giants known as FIFA.

On the surface most of what he desires is great and honest and therefore has no chance of materialising in this age of money laundering, bribes and betting scandals, but here perhaps the Pope is hoping that his perceived naïvety will allow some redress by conscious minded Catholics—or does he seriously expect professional footballers to turn overnight into a set of Holy Joes (Not Public though)? He expressed sentiments to which Uefa and worse yet the dogmatic FIFA will pay pious lip service, before carrying on exactly as before.

While a lot of people outside of the paying coffers of football will know that the Pope is right, those in power such as CONCACAF and various Caribbean Football Associations should take heed before it is too late. Oh, most in control of football’s vast riches may say most of it is predictable and forgettable: bad behaviour, flashy cars, and nightclubs, and, naturally, the role-model heresy.  Being a role model is, of course, about being commercially exploitable, not about setting a genuine example but the Pope is making an effort to be heard which is much more than can be said of any other World figure.
 
Parents, not sportsmen, are role models. “It’s not my job to bring up your kids,” the basketball player, Charles Barkley, said. Camus, the existentialist goalkeeper, said: “After many years in which the world has afforded me many experiences, what I most surely know in the long run about morality and the obligations of men, I owe to football.” The Pope believes football is “an important vehicle for values such as sacrifice, constant endeavour, respect for others, loyalty and solidarity”.

Though piously expressed, this is true of every team sport. Team sports are not possible without such things. The Pope also said that it would be a good thing “if promoters, managers and communicators ensure that football does not lose its essential characteristic as a sporting activity and is not submerged by other interests—above all, economic ones”. Again, this sounds like nothing we have heard before and has to be commended.

It is a pontiff on automatic pilot telling the football rulers that when your time comes, one will judge you greater on your dastardly deeds on earth. Football is in a process of transition. It is a fantastic game and these days there are fantastic amounts of money in it. Not so very long ago, financial involvement in football was largely a self-aggrandising semi-philanthropy. Local man makes good and buys into local football club.

The administrators were men of vocation: looking after the game—it was not then called a product—they loved. In general, television was thought to be a bad thing, leading to financial ruin. There is more football to enjoy, and everyone in the game is infinitely richer. Football is now the concern of the corporate. It has been dumbed down in the process: Penalty shoot-outs being the most obvious example.
 
Change, once started, cannot be stopped halfway. There are warning signs that the Pope is right, that the game is losing what it is that makes it a game. One of the fundamentals is the belief that the match, the team, the result really matters: and that there is no higher consideration than this.

This is not a moral stance, but it is the matter on which the playability and the watch ability of football depend. Is it too much to ask that even sponsors would prefer football to be on higher planes? In T&T, we continue to sell football, as simply a quick fix of money for many and get richer joy for a select few who own clubs and gain the benefits of sponsorships and transfers.

Football if we are not careful will lose its power to inspire the world’s imagination - and if it loses that, it would lose its earning power. Football is in the position of a bird with a stone attached to its foot by an unusually long piece of elastic.

In T&T, we are heading the very same way, and it is a pity that none of the religious leaders in this land of multi-religious groups can find the temperament and—dare I say it—the bravery to stand tall and tell our Association, our Football Leaders, Jack Warner, Oliver Camps, Harold Taylor and Richard Groden, just what is needed to correct football. Maybe, then and only then, we may qualify for the 2002 World Cup Finals. Thank God for His holiness, Pope John Paul II.
 
So some 12 years later, football is in a terrible state all over the world with FIFA’s credibility now in ruins and with most persons believing that the sooner that Sepp Blatter leaves football, the better it will be. It is clear that yet again sports was given a wake up call which was ignored, but this time with the help and added wisdom of the dearly departed Pope John Paul, someone should have been more perceptive at the TTFF.

And while , it is clearly too late to save FIFA and CONCACAF, we can save the TTFF, if enough persons put their hands up and show a willingness to come forward and make changes. There is little doubt that the path ahead is fraught with many problems and many question marks. So unless there is some equity at the Football Federation, there will continue to be obstacles. There is not much room for objectively among the public when we are greeted this week by the news that the current Under 23 Manager Norris Ferguson who is very well respected by all of the staff of the Under 23 Olympic team in training, was summarily dismissed from his job as Manager and replaced by William Wallace (of cricketing background).

This can be considered by some to be a sinister move in light of the fact that Norris Ferguson campaigned for Keith Look Loy in his battle for the presidency of the Eastern Football Association against none other than Lennox Watson (who initially at that time was the incumbent Eastern Football Association President). The aforementioned Lennox Watson is now the acting president of TTFF and it is easy for there to be the suggestion that this is a case of victimisation for his stance. One can only hope that this is not true and that somewhere there is a justifiable reason for Ferguson’s dismissal.

Football still remains one of the most popular sport in this country. It is time for people to do the honourable thing from Minister to Permanent Secretary to heads of many of the National Sporting Organisations. There are still good people left in sports except now, we may have to dig deeper to encourage them to come forward. It is a task that will not be easy given the antagonistic environment that currently exists in sports at the moment.
« Last Edit: January 18, 2012, 06:48:41 AM by Flex »
The Conquering Lion of Judah shall break every chain.

Offline injunchile

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Re: Spirit willing, flesh weak
« Reply #1 on: January 18, 2012, 11:45:18 AM »
What a thing- Someone needs to remind Mr Watson that he is acting and therefore should not be making appointments about TD and Coaches. If he has any Integrity{ a bad word in T&T} he would call for an early election to give him authority and legitimacy, Church leaders cannot speak up about the state of Football because they are all waiting on Jack to help renovate their Churches or restore their buildings from the Ministry of Works.

Offline King Deese

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Re: Spirit willing, flesh weak
« Reply #2 on: January 18, 2012, 11:53:27 AM »
In the movie, Brave Heart, William Wallace, Commander of the Army of the kingdom of Scotland, but outlaw to the British Empire was beheaded in the end. How ironic that this particular William Wallace is hired by perpetrators of the British Empire, ah mean, football federation. Ah wonder if.......................um.
« Last Edit: January 18, 2012, 12:05:31 PM by King Deese »
I am the punishment of God...If you had not comitted great sins, God would not have sent a punishment like me upon you.