On Target
August 14, 2009
Windward Islands School Games in Review- Part 2

As one looks forward to next year’s CBN/Winlott Inc. Windward Islands Schools Games, it is imperative for this column to look back at this year’s edition from an administrative standpoint and point the way forward.{{more}}

Undoubtedly, the Games are an integral part of the schools’ set up in the four islands and must be maintained, but certainly with some re-organisation and re-definition.

From my point of view, I am not too clear if the Games’ organisers have worked out whether the week-long exercise is to make the athletes multitalented or to provide exposure and competition with their peers, who are at a similar level of proficiency.

Different islands, though, have different focuses.

This was evident in many ways as team selection, even from the Vincentian contingent, pointed to skewed aspirations. There were two “specialist” footballers who spent more time on the bench rather than on the field of play.

The fact, too, that some athletes/students were given free reign to behave in a particular manner, oblivious to their management’s rebuke and scrutiny, questions the validity and overall aims and intentions of the annual venture.

An event of that magnitude is not easily executed. however, it surely reflects what happens at school, where codes of conduct and standards are prescribed and adhered to.

So while the students/athletes identifications were in the main visible, they should be made to be identifiable through other forms of apparel, namely casual wear. Yes, in the most recent experience, tees were provided for the respective islands, but too often the athletes/students took advantage of the laissez faire approach which existed.

I, therefore, see some concerned parents’ /guardians’ reluctance to allow their children/wards to go on such camps.

Also, I totally agree with St. Lucian Theophila Charles, who spoke on behalf of the other three managers at the closing ceremony, that there needs to be a “template” for the Games. As it appeared, standards varied from host to host.

This should go hand in hand with a broad-based planning committee drawn from the four islands, to plan for the Games, complemented by support committees in the host territories. It was clear from the Vincentian experience that everyone was not on the same page, as at times some pertinent questions were being asked, but the corresponding answers were not forth coming.

The week appears not to have been long enough as the near over lapping of disciplines congested the occasion to the point where contingents had to be rushing from one venue to the other, thereby denying full participation and support for some events.

As it turned out, the last two days saw a significant drop off in energy level, enthusiasm, and ultimately performance. Let the participants yearn for more of action, not want it to be over.

Alternately, some disciplines could be rotated, with some deemed as “core” being permanent fixtures annually.

Additionally, I am proposing that the Volleyball component be reduced to the best of three instead of the five setters. This dragged that aspect on this year’s Games sometimes past midnight, granted that the venue, the National Lotteries Authority Hard Court at Richmond Hill, is uncovered. This surely will not be the case in St. Lucia as they possess the comfort of an indoor facility.

Therefore, one day should be set aside for total rest and relaxation and give the students/athletes time to recover.

Also, a pool of officials drawn from each island for each discipline, possibly, two or three, and like the athletes, those who are multi talented. I am certain that there are officials who can double up in some sports.

This helps to negate the ever present challenge of hometown decisions favouring the host, as was purported by some visiting coaches and managers.

Then comes the cost of running the Games. Therefore, with this being a crucial factor, the Games could possibly be held every two years, thereby not only leaving space for proper planning and preparation of the contingent, but provide that anxiety and rivalry to make the national representative teams.

Away from the actual physical sporting activities, planners in the future should set aside a day/night for a cultural showcase of each other’s talents. Whilst it is primarily a sporting event, too much emphasis is placed on the on field/on court contests, neglecting or stifling some of the athletes/students’ latent talents.

One day could also be used to provide each island’s National Dish, or other indigenous delicacies, which also adds flavour to the Games, and avoids the perennial problem of monotony of meals, and at the same time give others an opportunity to learn and sample each other’s cuisine.

Too much sampling, though, has been done of that “Mound’ at the Sion Hill Playing Field.