Strength in numbers
The decision by the national sporting associations to meet last Saturday at the Hotel Alexandrina to have one voice as it pertains to discuss Covid protocols and the impact on sports and society, is highly commendable.
Since the declaration of the coronavirus as a pandemic in March 2020, sporting events here in St Vincent and the Grenadines, have not been at their usual operations.
Whilst some associations would have been able to carry out sporadic activities, as a collective, sports has severely been affected negatively.
Therefore, from the frank discussions and presentations which were ventilated at Saturday’s forum, it was clear that everyone had enough of the partial lock down of sports .
It was also more evident that administrators want to get on with the business of sports.
The revelations from representative of national associations were startling to say the least. Some claim that since the commencement of the pandemic, membership loss in cases, has soared to as much as ninety- five percent.
This loss is not restricted to players, but has trickled down to officials, inclusive of coaches.
Additionally, there has been losses in revenue, as a section of the stakeholders have laid idle for some time. Referees, umpires, bus drivers, sportswear and equipment agents, vendors and other sectors which benefit from the hosting of sporting competitions, have had to endure the hardships and uncertainty of waiting it out.
In short, the impact of not having organised sports on a national level has been widespread. Regrettably, on the social side, some players have channelled their energies in areas which spell disaster.
Unnerving and sociably disturbing are reports that numerous of the young sportsmen and women have drifted towards a new found hobby, that of engaging in the use of illegal substances. Similarly, others have gone deeper and deeper in their use, or more apt, abuse.
Likewise, there are those who have resorted to the drinking of alcohol.
All told, St Vincent and the Grenadines’ position in sports currently is at a low ebb in many aspects.
But what was instructive from Saturday’s meeting, were the concerns raised about the disparity in the health protocols that are in place which govern the staging of sporting events, in light of the prevailing threats of the coronavirus.
Thus, emanating from the forum, was the unanimous call for a rethink and relook at these stipulations.
One of the cues , as highlighted for the potential return of sports in a wholesome fashion has been the reopening of face to face classes for schools.
The notion was that is the case, there is no reason why sports cannot be treated likewise, as students come from different locales and are there is a high degree of physical interaction.
As such, many argue and rightly so, that whilst some sporting events are not allowed to take place, there are other happenings which go untethered.
For instance, when one looks at several of the playing fields across St Vincent and the Grenadines, there are some sporting actions that are happening, albeit in an uncontrolled and unstructured manner.
Ironically, affiliates question, these go unprohibited, whereas controlled events which will adhere to the protocols, are often turned down.
Given all the happenings, the frustrations and undetermined end to the pandemic, sports can be considered stymied and placed on the back burner.
As a consequence, the affiliate members of the SVGOC have banded together and will soon be approaching the relevant authorities to arrive at a middle ground.
Indeed, this has to be the best approach, as with the clarion call for the return of sports, the health and safety of the populace is also important.
Obviously, both sides have plausible arguments which would sway their final decisions.
Surely, one is equally confident that our health authorities and policy makers know the value of sports not only as a form of recreation, but as an outlet for national development.
They too are cognisant that exercise and other forms of physical activities are essential for the well- being of all.
Therefore, the significance of sports has been brought to the fore, now that there has been limited competitions, tournaments and training for the better part of two years.
The clamour is loud and deafening that sports must take its rightful place in the national psyche and scheme of things.
As echoed last Saturday, St Vincent and the Grenadines can ill afford another year without meaningful sporting ventures.
This column is optimistic that those with the eyes and ears of policies will see, hear and decisively have sports back in business.