On Target
August 21, 2009
Bequia building a sporting niche

The Grenadine island of Bequia, the largest of the chain, is slowly but certainly carving out a sporting niche.

Known more for its whaling traditions, its annual Easter sailing extravaganza, an island get away for its pristine waters and tranquility, Bequia’s sporting events are beginning to take root.{{more}}

The annual Bequia Basketball Tournament is indeed the most organized and structured of its kind in this multi-island state. It can rival any other sport in terms of its administration and public relations. Additionally, Bequia Basketball is keeping up with the times, and possesses some of the best equipment, including a collapsible backboard fitted with glass.

Actually, in the recent past, no other Basketball Tournament has outlived Bequia’s continuity. And, while they have been able to do so, at the national level, the opposite holds.

The basketball tournament in Bequia has also taken over where Football left off in the mid 1990’s when it was the lead sport on the island. Several national footballers at the junior and senior levels have emerged, with the most notable being Marlon James and Burton Forde.

The island also stages a very competitive schools’ athletics meet among the schools there. Middle and long distance athlete Theodora Corea of the 1980’s era may have taken the go ahead as the most famed track and field athlete they have produced.

However, despite this achievement, Cricket on Bequia has had its ups and downs and hardly gained permanent residence in the sporting landscape. The revival of a Cricket competition in 2007 has rekindled excitement and interest on the island. Growing in popularity, the competition has had successful events in the three years.

Unlike Cricket on the mainland, the following is huge. The atmosphere at last Sunday’s final reminded me of 30 years ago, when the social aspect of sports surpassed the on field battle. Yes, the homogeneity of the Bequia community adds to the kinship that exists at the matches.

Whilst the standard can only get better, attention must be paid to the development of the sport on the island. Indeed there are youngsters who love and play the game, thereby creating other avenues to net more young cricketers, and there talents should be welcomed by the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Cricket Association.

With the momentum going, more opportunities to give those with potential on the island exposure to coaching is vital at this point.

Already, the fact that some accomplished players from the mainland have been aligning with some of the teams augurs well for their development, but must be monitored to prevent infiltration, and the competition ultimately losing its unique characteristics.

Additionally, organizers may be advised to have an over 40 age group component, so as to ensure that those who are past their best, but still have the willingness to play, are not turned off by the participation of the youthful and energetic ones.

Interestingly, the competition has the backing of businesses on the island, with eight of the eleven teams being sponsored.

Despite the strides and gains, there are still teething issues. The Clive Tannis Playing Field is no longer adequate for the demands being placed on it in relation to Football and Cricket.

The venue is in dire need of repair to the roof of the pavilion and some work is also needed on the outfield. The gaping holes in the pavilion’s roof occasioned by weathering smacks of a disaster waiting to happen.

No big up, though, for the “Mound” at the Sion Hill Playing Field.

email: kingroache@yahoo.com