Christopher Ram’s lasting legacy to the Guyana Tennis Association (GTA) he served as president for two terms will not be the five-year short term plan he has implemented, the new courts erected under his stewardship or the improvement in the standard of the junior players but rather the decision to change the constitution of the GTA so that one person cannot serve for more than two terms.
Of course, there is nothing to stop a new president from changing the constitution back again (or making themselves president for life) but at least Ram has shown the vision and taken the initiative to chart a new course for the association.
Ram has gone further in advocating that all the sports associations should institute term limits for its presidents.
He argued: “Sports in Guyana have been retarded as organisations continue to operate as self-perpetuating oligarchies headed by virtual presidents for life. Those organisations operate under opaque constitutions that preclude any attempt at transparency and accountability.
Strong words but Ram is right.
Annual General Meeting (AGM) were meant to be just that, meetings held annually to elect office bearers for a new term but those that tasted the nectar of power that comes from being the head of an associations moved quickly to entrench themselves in the positions.
Constitutions were changed and elections for office bearers were held sometimes bi-annually or in some extreme cases every four years, the argument being that they were bringing the association in line with that of their world governing body.
In the case of one local association, elections are staggered with one set of posts being contested one year and the remaining set of positions the following year.
It would be interesting to find out whether this type of staggered elections exists anywhere else in the world and one is sure that it has contributed to the fact that there has been very little if any changes to the executive of that particular association over the years.
The situation in Guyana is unique and backward. In most cases it is persons within associations who determine the new leadership. They bring in persons who they know will have their selfish interests at heart and who will reward them for helping them ascend the throne of the organization.
It means that from the outset, the association is doomed as the president will most likely surround himself with sycophants, who will be unable to ensure the fairness, transparency and accountability that are so necessary to the successful running of the organization.
Another problem is that it seems as if persons will stop at nothing to become presidents of sports associations simply because of the perks of the post.
In one instance a president of an association, voluntarily gave up the post after claiming that he feared for his life after he and his family received death threats
The oligarchy that ram spoke about is reflected in the fact that senior players from at least two sports associations are at odds with the executives which has led to them being ostracized, prevented from participating in major tournaments and from representing the country of their birth. All of the above are excesses perpetuated against sportsmen and women by some of those in whom the power to lead the association resides.
The injustices meted out to sportsmen and women (who only want to play the sport that they love and are good at) are many and there is very little being said or done about the matters.
It is why Ram is right. Why Ram is advocating that term limits be enshrined in the constitutions of all sports associations. Two terms, two strikes then you’re out.
It is a constitutional ruling that should be adopted by all the national sports associations in Guyana but unfortunately in this day and age nothing short of the atomic bomb will budge some presidents from their posts simply because of their unwillingness to give up the attendant `perks,’ prestige and privileges that come with the post.
Ram, though, is showing that it does not have to be that way. Those decent-minded citizens, even those passionate about the development of sports in Guyana, can serve and then walk away after their terms in office, leaving others to continue the work.
Ram’s decision will certainly give the other sports associations much food for thought but how many of them will see the wisdom and the selflessness of such a decision and move to implement it is another matter.