B standards simply lowers the bar

YOU have to wonder sometimes what Guernsey’s now half-century long involvement with the Commonwealth Games is all about?

Elite performer: Cameron Chalmers runs the 400m at the 2018 Commonwealth Games. (28883149)
Elite performer: Cameron Chalmers runs the 400m at the 2018 Commonwealth Games. (28883149)

And it was while studying colleague Jamie Ingrouille’s two-part look-back at Guernsey’s Commonwealth debut in Edinburgh 50 years ago in 1970 – first instalment in Monday’s full Time – that question I’ve long asked myself juddered back into my mind.

To all intents and purposes Guernsey’s first dip into the Commonwealth sporting arena in 1970 was a flop – as our man-on-the-spot Dave Prigent viewed it as – and all this time later it often shows the same hallmarks every four-yearly extravaganza.

Sure, there have been some high spots and a few medals in between, but as the first set of 2022 Birmingham Games criteria released by Guernsey Athletics with the agreement of the Guernsey Commonwealth Games Association highlighted, we are still missing the point.

The Games should be about excellence, not filling seats.

Time and again, Guernsey sends competitors to this sporting spectacle viewing it more along the lines of a jamboree and, yet, by allowing sports such as athletics – the first to reveal qualifying standards – to have B standards the GCGA shows itself still intent on merely filling spots and allowing mediocrity at a time when the main Commonwealth Federation are urging competing nations to get real with their selections as to, in their words: ‘increase elite athlete attendance, to attract higher media attention and sponsors, and improve athlete experience at the Games’.

For sure, selecting B standard competitors does not achieve that. But do the GCGA care?

It seems to me that the current GCGA are not worrying themselves about the CGF plea for raising the quality bar, because if they did they would set one standard and leave it at that.

The upshot of including B standards is that it will allow the GCGA to fill its allocation of competitor spots in Birmingham when – really – it should be all about only sending those who can challenge and thrive on a stage several notches up from the Island Games.

In reality, Guernsey are nowhere near possessing 28-30 competitors of desired CGF level.

It is more like 15 and even that number is pushing it.

Doing away with B standards and introducing quality, studied selection, is the best way to ensure an excellent team travelling to the games in the future, although don’t bet on any change happening any time soon.

WHILE Northerners have slipped down the FNB Priaulx League table this season, behind the scenes there has been a level of disquiet leading to the stepping aside of assistant first-team coach Charlie Pinsard.

The more observant Northfield followers will have noticed that after playing a key role in North’s rise to the top last season and ultimately only beaten to the title by a pandemic, Pinsard has ‘left the building’ after a set of bad results in the early weeks of the new season brought about a senior players’ meeting.

The question asked of them was, above all, do they go with Pinsard, or stick with Jose Alvarez?

Faced with an unenviable and very awkward decision, especially given that Joe Alvarez, Jose’s son, is one of the senior players, they declined to back the assistant even though his coaching credentials are admirable enough.

How Northerners perform today at Port Soif and in the coming weeks will answer how damaging the loss of Pinsard is, but longer term – possibly next season – it is a fair bet that U18s coach Ross Cameron will step up to the first-team plate and complete the integration of a strong group of U18 and U16 youth players.

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