By OSCAR SÁNCHEZ SERRA, Editor of Granma International
HAVANA (30 November, 2010) – What does it mean to focus on the massive practice of sport and physical activity, from the rearrangement of the sports system and the restructuring of its network of centers? Why does this proposal, after 52 years of revolutionary sport, appear in the Draft Guidelines for the Economic and Social Policy of the Party and the Revolution?
“When every boy in the city, in the village, in the neighbourhood, can find a place to develop his physical condition and devote himself to the sport of his choice, we will have satisfied the desires of all who’ve made this revolution”, Fidel, on 14 April 1959.
“….we’ve been resting on our laurels. Let’s be honest and recognize everything. No matter what our enemies say. Let’s be serious. Let’s revise every discipline, every human and material resource which we devote to sport,” Fidel, 24 August 2008 in his Reflection Gold medal for honor.
Thus, nothing more nor less, answers both questions, because both answers are the essence of what the outlines propose: the revival of the thoughts of the Commander in Chief.
If we do not put sports in each school, which has to be the basic setup for sport in the community, if each one of them does not generate an athletic movement that leads the student to being proud to represent it, if a competitive system among all schools in the municipality is not structured, at the various levels of education, then we would not be reflecting the proposal in the document that has already begun to be discussed in the society; we would be still far from the thoughts of Fidel on sport.
How could we not win if we had a championship in football, basketball, volleyball, baseball, handball, in the municipalities, with all schools the participating, each with its own identity; with teachers, parents and neighbourhood residents applauding good play from the sidelines, with the city putting their professional talent and resources in an organized manner in these competitions?
It would not incur large expenses for transportation, because it is in the town, nor accommodation for the same reason. The structure of these competitions could reach the national level, if at the end of local competition, the winning team represents the area in the provincial event, and the winner of the province in competition with the best schools in the country, one for each territory, maintaining their banner.
That is – to focus attention on mass sport, the community itself. Do not forget we have over 8,500 primary schools, over 950 secondary schools, over 500 technical centers and vocational education, more than 350 senior high schools.
That massive turnout comes as a logical consequence, talents, just being there at the base, to see them. To put another way: the formula is not elitist for sport, or enclosed in a specialized school. In the EIDE (17 in total), for example, there is only one football team, and when it competes in the National School Games, it has nothing more than the opposition of 15 other schools, understand provinces, as the capital has two such centers.
Of course, focusing on mass sport, which we like to call participatory, does not eliminate high performance sport, precisely because the latter would crystallize – enriched by the greater physical activity at the base. That is, strengthening the mass sports is directly proportionate to a good international performance. As someone said, the medal should be a byproduct of the masses.
History also confirms this. In this country, only 0.25 per cent of the population had access to the sport when the revolution triumphed, and the policy of expanding, “taking it as far as possible”, as stated by the Commander in Chief on November 19, 1961, Cuba finished in the top ten of the Olympic Games for the first time in 1976, even when there were no EIDE, born a year later.
What we need to do recover that path? Organization and planning, i.e., making better use of the budget, which the state allocates and what the system is capable of generating by way of self-financing. We have the human resources, also the schools, and more than 35,000 teachers of higher level is the luxury of an army that few have in the world. And what about sporting goods?
In this “game” the hitter is the key to the Cuban sports industry, it is imperative that batting and long recovery is a prerequisite in the return to that path and sports development itself, which we want at the base and accordingly for the medals in major international competitions.
This production will be what playing this sport needs to reverse the current situation. Is it not worth spending on what is now calling for the support of national teams, leaving more than 6,000 facilities which the national sports system now has in a bad state today, without equipment: we have wasted on the professional that for the student, unable to work, leaving the child without motivation.
Few things are as important today in sport as its industry which once again should be at the forefront of every home run, spike, or goal. If we are able to support mass sport with its products, we will continue in the seat occupied by the world powers of the sport.