Sport organisations need to pay close attention to the system of communication they adopt.
They need to establish clarity when communicating with internal and external stakeholders. Not enough attention is given to the establishment of a good communicative system and as a result, mixed or the wrong messages are sent out and the loser is usually the good reputation of the organisation and the sport.
Over the last week, communication came into sharp focus with the contest for the presidency of the T&T Football Federation (TTFF). Both candidates had the opportunity to raise the bar and do sport in general and football in particular a great service. Like many others, I was excited at the prospect of a democratic election for the presidency of the TTFF.
The candidates were two decent men both of whom are held in high regard by those who have no axe to grind.
The image of sports governance in T&T needed the shot in the arm and a boost to its self-esteem.
In the case of football, it was time to chart a new course having endured a difficult and trying period following Jack Warner’s withdrawal from football administration. It was an opportunity for football to engage stakeholders in positive and constructive communication.
Then news hit that one of the candidates, Colin Murray, had to withdraw his candidacy. His press conference created more questions than answers. The rumour mill started working overtime. The conspiracy theorists were out in full flight.
Whatever the reason or reasons for the decision, good sport governance suffered a black eye, a positive reduced to just another day in the contentious backwater that is sport and sport politics. No matter the sense of relief in some quarters, the truth is that football needed the contest, if only to experience the lifeline of democracy.
In communicating his warning to the president designate Murray opened a Pandora’s Box of inferences with regard to deals and agreements. Were such words of caution helpful or to the detriment, only time will tell.
Certainly it’s an immediate test of Raymond Tim Kee’s commitment to good governance principles.
Actions speak louder than words, a commitment to good governance principles including transparency, accountability and ethical behaviour is easier said than done.
So what should have been a keen and clean contest for the high profile position as leader of the number one participation sport in T&T, is now a non-event.
What message did it send about football politics and the state of sport governance in general?
Would potential sponsors have felt positive about the future of football?
The presidency of football may well turn out to be a poisoned chalice in the absence of an unwavering commitment to good governance principles.
It is imperative that going forward the communication from TTFF keeps stakeholders informed, motivated, and above all confident that better days are coming.
The new president must not only clearly share his vision but he must be a bridge builder and integrate the efforts of stakeholders toward achieving common goals, with everybody working in the same direction.
He must foster a harmonious environment in which football’s key stakeholders see themselves individually and collectively as valuable contributors.
Before harmony can be achieved the barriers to communication including prejudices, biases, enmity, circumstances, to name a few, must be broken down.
Football needs less contention not more. It needs harmony not divisiveness. It needs to focus on charting a brand new future and not spend all its time and energy looking behind. It needs to encourage creativity, imagination and innovation but above all it needs to be honest, ethical and inclusive in the way it engages stakeholders.
In this regard, football can be a positive role model to other sport organisations.
Brian Lewis is the Honorary Secretary General of the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee http// www.ttoc.org. The views expressed are not necessarily those of the TTOC.