Citing the presence of the BVI Olympic Committee and financial support from a shoe sponsor in PUMA, Steve Augustine, President of the British Virgin Island Athletics Association (BVIAA) is not overly concerned about the possibility of athletes from his country switching allegiance to represent the United Kingdom in international competition.

Augustine was speaking recently on the online Talk Sports show with Michael Bascombe in the wake of the success the BVI enjoyed at the recent 49th edition of the Carifta Games held at the National Stadium in Kingston, Jamaica.

At the Games held from April 16-18, the BVI won four gold medals, two silver and a bronze for one of their best-ever medal hauls. Three of those gold medals were won by the imperious 16-year-old Adaejah Hodge, who was voted the winner of the coveted Austin Sealy Award.

But as is the case with many small island nations, there have been occasions when athletes choose to transfer allegiance to other countries in search of greater stability and support. In the recent past, Olympian Miguel Francis, who was born in Montserrat and resided in Antigua, chose to represent the United Kingdom in international competition.

Augustine said while the issue has surfaced in recent conversations with colleagues, he is not overly concerned.

“It’s something that we have spoken about at a high level, at the association level but we have never had to face that battle,” said Augustine, whose islands boast two of the best athletes in the world – Kyron McMaster and Chantal Malone – in the 400m hurdles and long jump respectively and who still represent the BVI in international competition.

“One of the good things about the BVI is that we have an Olympic Committee existing on the island, the BVI Olympic Committee. There are other territories that are under the umbrella of the United Kingdom that do not and for them, that becomes the obvious option to perhaps leave their home countries and compete for the United Kingdom.

“It’s not something that we have paid much attention to. It is indeed an option of athlete wants to do that, there is a process through World Athletics, you can’t just jump up and compete for the UK tomorrow, there is a process.”

That said, Augustine believes the BVIAA treats its athletes well which in all likelihood makes them want to remain at home.

“We were super happy a few years to be sponsored by PUMA, so our athletes are well geared. They look really nice in their uniforms. Those simple things that probably would have been problematic for us in previous years, are no longer an issue, so the little things that we do do, our athletes are appreciative.

“There is a whole lot more than we can do. Perhaps there is a benefit if they were to compete for the United Kingdom but there is no better place to be a king than at home.”

 

 

 

 

Sir Curtly Ambrose said while he fully endorses regional players plying their trade across the world to secure their financial futures, he believes those players should equally make themselves available to play for the West Indies.

There have been several instances in the past few years where players have declined invitations to represent the West Indies but then jet off to destinations across the globe to play in T20 tournaments.

The issue was brought into sharp focus recently when several West Indies players declined to tour Bangladesh citing the pandemic and their related safety concerns. However, some of those players later went on to play for T20 franchises in countries that were also experiencing spikes in the number of Covid-19 infections.

During an interview on Talk Sports Live with Michael Bascombe on Saturday, the West Indies bowling icon, said the players need to do a better job of striking a balance between playing franchise cricket and representing the West Indies.

“The game has evolved. There is a lot more cricket being played now and many different T20 tournaments around the globe and there’s lots more money as well, so guys are going to go where the money is and I have no issues with that,” Ambrose said.

“A cricket career can be a very short one, once you have injury it could be all over for you so with guys going around plying their trade with different franchises making money to set themselves up financially, I have no issues with it.

“However, I think it needs to strike a balance somewhere because most of these guys who are playing their trade around the world, it’s because they played for the West Indies team why people saw them and gave them contracts. So for me, you need to find a balance somewhere where you can give back to West Indies cricket. You need to give back to West Indies cricket at some point as opposed to abandoning West Indies cricket.”

This is not the first time that Ambrose has expressed these sentiments.

In December 2020, he publicly criticized Andre Russell, who after declined an invitation to play for the West Indies against New Zealand but later went to play in the Sri Lanka Premier League T20 tournament.

Chief selector Roger Harper told media that Russell declined the West Indies invitation citing the need to clear his mind after being in quarantine lockdown for both the Caribbean Premier League in Trinidad and Tobago where he played for the Jamaica Tallawahs franchise and then, the Indian Premier League in Abu Dhabi where he played for the Kolkata Knight Riders.

Ambrose poured cold water on the explanation.

“Because he wants to clear his head for a while to get his mind together, I have no problem with that because cricket is a high-pressure game,” he said.

“So if you want to clear your head for a while, take your mind off cricket I have no issues with that, but if you are going to reject playing for your nation, your country, and then two weeks later you’re playing for somebody else, that to me is a no-no.”

 

 

 

Fast bowling icon Sir Curtly Ambrose believes it will be difficult for the West Indies to unearth players with similar talents to those from the team’s glory days of the 70s and early 90s because the current crop of players has not grasped what cricket means to the people from the region.

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