Hoping for better in schools’ sports
On Target
October 4, 2019
Hoping for better in schools’ sports

The formal announcement earlier this week, that the Division of Physical Education and Sports will take the lead in the organisation of most of the disciplines on the schools’ sporting calendar, must be good to the ear of many.

It was conspicuous, by persons who have been followers of the various sporting competitions within the schools, for several years now, that something was missing in terms of that spunk.

As a consequence, many (this column included) had called for a change.

And, this change which has had some loud clamouring, has finally come, as the Division of Physical Education and Sports, is now the lead administrator.

Previously, it was the Ministry of Education, National Reconciliation and Information that headed the process, via the National Schools’ Games Committee, with the respective national sporting associations chairing their disciplines.

Whilst the latter’s organisational concept and administrative construct had good intent, it was fraught with problems, because of a number of reasons.

Hopefully, with the new systems in place and different personnel in charge, we can see a turn around in the acceptance of schools’ sports.

This hope has already been realised though, by some of the plans and changes that are in place for netball, football and table tennis competitions, which will take place in the first term of the 2019/2020 academic year.

There is an air of expectancy with the news that matches in the secondary football competitions are scheduled for afternoons, (some after 3 p.m.) thus giving fellow students, parents and others an opportunity after school and work to view the matches.

Another of the welcomed changes is the hosting of matches on Saturdays and Sundays, thus involving the wider general public.

Too, it has been proposed that some of the football matches will be fixtured as marquee events morphed within some of the community football leagues that are ongoing.

Hence, this year’s competition sees a greater geographical spread of venues where matches will be hosted.

Among the venues where matches are carded, are the Grammar School Playing Field, Arnos Vale two, Campden Park Playing Field, the London Playing Field, the Chili Playing Field, Stubbs, Layou, Keartons, Hope Playing Field in Vermont, Cane End, Golden Grove in Fitz Hughes and the Diamonds Playing Field.

The use of some of the non–traditional venues augur well in taking schools’ football to these communities which were not the beneficiaries before.

Similarly, the secondary schools’ netball tournament will have matches played on Saturdays, while those schools with hard courts on their compound or in close proximity, will have the fortune of having their matches hosted with their student population present.

Those to benefit from the potential partisan morale home support are the Georgetown Secondary, George Stephens Secondary, the Bethel High School, the Girls’ High School, the Sandy Bay Secondary, Petit Bordel and Central Leeward.

Indeed, this type of decentralisation of the two competitions can only help in the marketing of the respective disciplines and put that much needed impetus in schools’ sports.

The lead organisers (personnel of the Division of Physical Education and Sports) have positioned themselves to better what was done in the past, and avoid the pitfalls which had left various tournaments then, as just another happening on the schools’ sporting calendar.

Except for the athletics championships which is due in the second term, the division will also be in charge of basketball, cricket and volleyball competitions when they come around.

Things are therefore rife for a new vision, a new course, a different mind-set, when it comes to the administration of sports and physical education in the nation’s school system.

Going forward, the attitude should be making thing better by letting the spotlight fall on the student-athletes and not the ministry officials, who sometimes see themselves as the lead actors and actresses and not the support staff.

One is optimistic, that with the new configuration in place, a template will be established to produce success all round.

This column, as stated before, has been one which was an advocate for change in the way schools’ sports was administered.

Thankfully, that change has come, and with the right focus of thoughts and the tenacity displayed by all stakeholders, St Vincent and the Grenadines can become the model of the way things should be done.

Therefore, those in charge of chartering that new course must be cognisant that they will not be perfect, but most importantly, simply be better than what preceded them.