OOOPS! Did I say Israel? How did THAT happen? Do we now finally enjoy full diplomatic relationship with them? Has the thorniest conflict known to man today been resolved? Why didn’t anyone wake me for God’s sake, that would have been a show worth watching.
Ah, hang on a minute, the guy used his Kenyan passport to slip through. Man this guy must be really dedicated to his sport that he would go for a stunt like this. Either that or he’s pretty dense and no one bothered to explain to him the “dos and don’ts”. It’s all rather peculiar.
That doesn’t really concern me that much actually, him going to Israel to do his thing, I personally think that sports should transcend politics as they have been from time immemorial, otherwise, no Olympics and nor a lot of international sporting events would have ever taken place.
So what is it that sent our General Organisation for Youth and Sports over the edge and decide to strip Jawher’s citizenship off and withdraw his (Bahraini) passport? And how is it that GOYS has that power in the first place? I thought only the king could do that. It would be interesting if one of our MPs posed that question to GOYS’ officials, and also question them to find out what their future strategy is, if any.
Over the last few years what GOYS did do is import a lot of foreign athletes have been naturalized to carry Bahrain’s name at international events. I’ve mentioned some of them before, like Maryam Jamal who riled up some people for her showing her abs and Rashid Ramzi who won the first Bahraini gold in Helsinki, so I recognise their contributions and I would like to thank all athletes who allowed Bahrain’s name to shine at sporting events both local and international.
But GOYS as well as ourselves should recognise the fact that these are professional athletes whose only job is to participate in any and all events they can get into. The lifespan of an athlete at international events is rather short, so they cannot afford to pick and choose where they participate, especially when you take into consideration injuries and how long a body has to rest to recuperate.
So do I blame Leanord for participating in Israel? No, I don’t.
While I accept at that level of play, as we have seen in various other professional sporting fields, athletes do get bought and sold into countries, and yes, they are even naturalized in order for them to compete under their current country’s flag which they can and do possibly change as often as they change their jockstraps probably because it is part of their job. Nationality to them is mostly immaterial, to them, they probably think of it as simply a company they’re working for and will have no hesitation in moving if a more fortuitous opportunity comes about. Taking this into consideration, I have no problem with this situation, it is just a simple fact of professional sporting life and we shouldn’t read too much into it.
But what of the future though? Is GOYS simply going to buy their athletes in and naturalise them to win for us by proxy?
The question must be asked though, given our resources, does Bahrain really need to go out of its way to sign up these athletes? Isn’t this simply a case of instant gratification? Probably, but I suggest that it should be managed with long-term strategic thinking, one way to use this phenomenon is to put in place the tools to transfer the experience of these world-class athletes to local budding Bahrainis. Once that agreement is in place, give them whatever they want and do get them to carry the Bahraini citizenship if that is expedient, but also utilise them as inspirations to young local Bahrainis so that in a few years we can also be very proud to find locals mounting the top step at international meets.
It’s not unthinkable, and it shouldn’t be. We should not be against importing any experts in any field we lack the expertise in. But it would be an utter shame to spend vast amounts of money and effort in bringing them in and not really and methodically benefiting from ready expertise.