FOR FOUR WEEKS October 11 – November 12, 2021, players howled at times in pain from a challenge or in joy for scoring a goal; coaches shouted instructions, referees’ whistles blew as action in the 2021 St. Vincent and the Grenadines Community College(SVGCC) Invitational Six-a-Side Football Tournament took place, seemingly behind closed doors.
With only the organising team, participating football teams, officials, and at least two photographers from two media houses present on match days the atmosphere for the tournament was surreal as the COVID-19 protocols were rigidly enforced.
Tournament Director and Sports Co-ordinator at the SVGCC, Roxell John who was publicly praised for his perseverance told SEARCHLIGHT: “It was just about 20 persons allowed for each game day.
All protocols were adhered to during the registration process in that teams had to register players who were either vaccinated or presented a negative COVID-19 PCR test a maximum of five days before the competition started.
During the competition, on each competition day there were at least three random antigen tests done.”
Director of the SVGCC Nigel Scott said at the prize-giving ceremony last Friday, November 12 that: “It has been a full and very hectic competition. I just want to take this opportunity to thank all of you who participated to make the competition possible.
“I want to particularly thank Mr John, our sports co-ordinator here at the College, for co-ordinating once again another successful competition. There were times when we felt that this would not have happened this year.”
Scott said the competition was scaled down this year to a six-a-side event but with John’s persistence the college was able to get the approval of the Ministry of Health for the competition to take place.
He further said, “at the end of the day I pray and I hope that as you would have realised that sports has won, and sport is really the winner. It does not really matter who came first in this competition. The important thing is that after a year and a half of struggling and dealing with Covid, it is not over yet we will continue to deal with it; at least we are beginning to see that sport is emerging, and sport is going to be winning out at the end of the day.”
Roxell John told SEARCHLIGHT that: “This is the end result of about five or six sets of proposals that I sent to the health authorities. I sent one for 11-a-side, then I sent one for 9-a-side, then I sent one for 8-a-side.
After another refusal, I then told myself that the outdoor gathering stipulation is 20, so we need to work within that figure with players on the field, officials and all of that so I sent one for 6-a-side, and it was accepted.” He said several of the players who participated finally got the opportunity to compete in a tournament.
He chided sports administrators who are timid and do not want to “think outside of the box.
They do not need to have a regular competition with regular teams. They can have a competition with only vaccinated players from different teams who would come together and play football or play cricket or any other sporting discipline for that matter.” In Friday’s Final, Volcanoes FC Team 1 defeated Teachers Combined 4-1 to lift the 2021 title; while Jebelle Youth took the third place trophy with a 8 – 3 defeat of All Saints Medical Team 2.