On Target
October 19, 2012
That paradigm shift is needed

The 2012 secondary schools football tournament kicked off last Wednesday afternoon, without much fanfare, as the planned grand opening was rained out.

But already there is no innovation, as we are still stuck in the mode of simply having the competitions — the Under-16 and Under-21 divisions.{{more}}

By December, the winners are declared, and one will boast of having had a successful tournament.

Whilst assessments and evaluations are done at the conclusion of each tournament, very little changes are realized through tangible implementation.

Therefore, what is offered, over time, outlasts itself, and monotony reigns.

In 2012, we are still seeing teams starting preparations for the tournament at the beginning of term one in September.

What then comes out for the schools’ competition is a sub-standard display of football.

And, one does not need to apportion blame to poor or lack of preparation.

Notwithstanding that, the standard of football in St Vincent and the Grenadines is not much to shout about, but it becomes more pronounced since it is the indicator of what holds for the future.

Apart, the schools’ tournament is the measuring tape for selection of the St Vincent and the Grenadines team to the annual Windward Islands schools’ games.

And, what we have seen in recent time is that St Vincent and the Grenadines, which more or less bossed the football component in the multi-disciplined event, is slowly falling backwards.

Our policymakers in the field of school sports need to stop and take a long hard look at where we are going —oops, where we are not going — and begin to make that paradigm shift in our thinking and operations.

There is always advocacy by social commentators for programmes to get the youths, mainly the males, to be involved. Yet, we are passing up that opportunity to fixture the schools’ football competition after the 3 p.m. period.

Our Vincentian society continues to evolve and there is seemingly less time to do the things which ought to be done. Hence, it calls for an extension of our daylight activities.

Such a shift does not only allow the students more time for academics, but provides for meaningful engagement of their time, which, in the main, is spent at the bus stops or other places which promote assembling.

Furthermore, the schools’ football competition gets little community support, as it is confined to before the lunch period to accommodate the schools from Bequia or between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.

Very little is known and gained from the communities even in which the schools are located as well-wishers and parents alike cannot attend the matches, as they coincide with their work schedule.

We often copy what other islands do, but in this instance we are resistant to change, despite the successes of such undertakings by other territories in the region, namely Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica.

Here in these territories, the August holidays are used to condition the various school teams; thus when the tournament starts, half of the preparation has taken place.

We, as a people, need to buck the trend and allow school sports, namely football, to be played on weekends or after school.

Another experiment was made when the 2010 finals of the schools tournament were played on a Sunday at the Victoria Park.

Whilst it was not a novelty, the newness of the idea to the youngsters brought out a decent crowd, which enhanced the atmosphere and created the hype of a final.

Another of the considerations is that with the plethora of football leagues taking place across St Vincent and the Grenadines, it can be explored that the school matches be fused into the fixtures of the leagues, which provide readily available crowd support.

The matches in the schools’ tournament can preface the league matches.

As it is, many of the players who represent their respective schools are also participants in the leagues. So, there should be little opposition to this idea.

Our society is continually engaged in the updating and reconstructing of values, norms and practices as the cultural metamorphosis takes place.

Change is a permanent fixture. However, there will always be obstacles and road blocks mounted whenever innovative, and sometimes radical twists are proffered.