Left in the lurch
On Target
October 23, 2020
Left in the lurch

Two months ago, this column called on the policymakers of education, and by extension schools’ sports, to be real in these times.

That call was made in light of the realities that we were and are still living with the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, and these policymakers should engage in wisdom and let good judgement prevail, so as to facilitate the usual sporting activities for this the first term.

The norm is that the schools’ (primary and secondary) netball, football and table tennis competitions, are hosted during this current period, with some schools also having their inter- house athletics during the months of November and December.

Since that exposition, this column had learnt that it is confirmed that no football, table tennis or netball will take place in this the first term as customary.

But what is instructive is that among the reasons advanced by the Ministry of Education officials for the cancellation of these competitions, are insufficient time, lack of preparation by some schools and the money worries.
Such lame duck excuses should not be accepted, as some of the schools were proactive and were at an advanced state of readiness.

The ministry officials thus have displayed an infinite level of ineptitude, as surely there could have been at least scaled down competitions.

In essence, those who sought to beat the clock as it were, have been penalised for those who failed to get ahead with their programmes ahead of the commencement of the new academic year.

The ministry officials have shown up their laziness and lack of foresight, as track and field component, which is run by Team Athletics SVG, is prepping to be on the starter’s gun.

It is also more than incongurous that the same officials from the ministry are encouraging and given the green light for schools to have intra schools’ competitions, namely in football and netball.

Some of the physical education teachers who have that understanding of what sports mean to their students, have ensured that their students are engaged in some active competition.

But kudos to the Bethel High School and the St Martin’s Secondary School, for entering their football teams in the South Leeward Inter- Village football competition and the St Vincent and the Grenadines Community College invitational football competition, respectively.

Thankfully, some of the footballers and netballers will have some opportunities to showcase their talents, as many are into their last year at these secondary institutions.

Also, many of them are involved in the various community football leagues that are taking place.

In the case of table tennis, fortunately, many of the young players are still in training and are having their internal competitions, which in some way is a soften blow in the absence of a national schools’ championships.

This is no way the same as being crowned the national schools’ winners. But the students and teachers are powerless at this time, as they have no control over the things they cannot change, and just have to resort to wait it out.

Those government officials who are in position of clout and decision-making seemingly do not understand that many of the students in the school system, their only claim to success and achievement, is sports.

They have little understanding of the psyche of students who depend heavily on sports to up their self esteem and add meaning to their attendance at school.

Many of these students who play sports are able to better their social interaction and develop other traits and life skills, simply through involvement.

Sporting competitions have that sociological impact on students, and have gone some distance in assistinng students with behavioural and attitude problems.

What is the back lash as a country when young people are denied outlets to express their God-given talent?

But moving away from the social implications of not having full fledged table tennis, football and netball competitions, one has to look ahead at an administrative concern.

So therefore, what processes will then be used for the selection of the St Vincent and the Grenadines team to the 2021 Windward Islands Games, should that Games resume?

Or is it that those in the chairs of responsibility do not have the capacity to think of such effects of no secondary football and netball competitions?