“The future depends on what you do today.”
― Mahatma Gandhi
Even today when i think about the blank stares and chuckles i got from my presentation at the Inaugural Academic conference on Football at University of the West Indies, Mona. I am distressed. Well disappointed. I try not to get too excited in case things like this happen but i was so sure this presentation would be really useful and generate some good conversations.
My presentation title was “Bunny a leak yuh a leak- Womens’ football in Jamaica”. Having chaired a session on Women’s football by accident the day before, I decided the night before my presentation that i would really try hard to bring a fresh perspective to this conversation on women in football. Initially i had wanted to go in and talk about how problematic and difficult it was women in football in Jamaica and the world and what i had experienced from the U-21 Caribbean Football Union tournament that was held in Jamaica last year.
So as i sat with my thoughts it came to me; “Ovastanding”. The word “ovastanding”. Freddy Hickling had used it in the title of his presentation that same day. I don’t remember the full title i know it was “ovastanding” something and when he said it, it brought more meaning to the idea of understanding. It signalled a deeper meaning. To “ovastand” something was to fully get what that thing meant. To see all the dimensions of it, to turn it on its head and examine and analyse it so fully. I liked the idea of “ovastanding”. To ovastand something.
Magical thoughts seem to come together because on the same day my friend Iman Blakk, had launched his book From Emancipation to the Reggae Boyz. Iman Blakk was a great Jamaican footballer. He played professional football in the United States for the New York Cosmos, the same team as Brazilian great Pele and he completed his PhD work on Football at the University of the West Indies. One of the questions i asked Iman was whether or not there was a Rastafarian philosophy about Football and how those ideas were integrated into the book? The combination of “ovastanding” and thinking about a Rastafarian Philosophy of Football was inspiring and i believe it all led me to a moment the night before my presentation when i felt like ha! yes i got it!
Instead of talking about the same old problems with women in football i would propose a solution much like Rastafari has done for us with language. I would create a new game and call it something else. Finally i would be able to demonstrate what i thought academia could be about;connecting theory to practice and making new things. I would show that i could make use of my university learning. I messaged my friend Zanj and asked him what is the Rastafarian word for football and after a pause he told me “LEDDA”(Leather) because that is the material that made the ball. I loved it and i totally got it.
So now women had the option of playing LEDDA. and LEDDA was a game for “ball artist”.
A ball artist was someone who could do amazing and interesting things with a ball. They had the skill of Marta from Brazil. She is times FIFA Player of the year and one of the best female footballers in the world. I remember coming across a description of her and how she moved the ball around artistically and i thought it would be beautiful if women could be allowed to show how they enjoyed football. I proposed what the organizing body for LEDDA would be, my counter to FIFA, there would be none, people all over the world would organize LEDDA festivals and JAMAICA could be the LEDDA capital of the world. I liked my presentation, as matter of fact i loved it. I thought it was theoretically sound with practical relevance and the opportunity to create something new and innovative. But alas blank stares a few chuckles and that was it.
Making babies, having children and finding a Job
Why do people make babies? to start a new generation? to see a combination of themselves? to leave a legacy? by accident? because as humans we have to make something new? And so humans make babies and have children and we give them what we didn’t have growing up or more and we teach them things we wish we had learnt and we place our hope and faith in their becoming and we try our best to take care of them because the youth are the future.
I think about the parallel between our desire to make babies and have children and our reluctance to create new institutions. Why do we have a new generation with new ideas struggling to find space or fit in old institutions? Why haven’t we cultivated a similar desire to make Institutions as we have to make babies, the next generation?
If the University of the West Indies for example , Mona graduates 20 PhD students per year, where at the University will 20 PhD students work? where in Jamaica will 20 Phd students work? They are likely to find it difficult to work because they will find themselves competing for the same positions as other PhD students who have graduated 5, 10 or even 15 yrs before them. In fact, if there was an opening it is most definitely going to go to the more seasoned, more published PhD.
Why does this happen? because the generation before have depended on the same “job” at the University instead of creating something new. The new PhD does not think that creating something new is important, possible or doable and so they come for a position at the University entitled for a PhDs. The University is the best place for people with Phds to work. or a place that needs consultants.
——->>> 1981 job position created in organization ———worker gets job 1987———— 1997 worker keeps job until gets a promotion———->>2005 worker leaves job for a similar or bigger job in a similar or bigger organization.
cycle of employment
Sometimes we leave to create a business. Entrepreneurs driven by the motivation of profit are expected to create new products and services and new businesses. The rise of social entrepreneurship is an attempt to shift profit into the creation of new institutions that serve the public. This can be very problematic because if the profit is not enough the business will close or capital doesn’t go into certain areas where new services or institutions are needed because the return is seen as limited.
So we have three problems. Technically more.
- We have old institutions pretending to address or fix problems that they were not invented to.
- we have new ideas struggling to fit into old institutions putting new people or the next generation out of work.
- A next generation with limited commitment to new institutions
New Institution building requires sacrifice vision and caring about the future. This is the kind of thing Marcus Garvey was thinking about.