By Neto Baptiste
Former regional and international cricketer Sylvester Joseph, who is now a coach within the schools cricket programme, has supported a decision by sports minister Daryll Matthew to further delay any return to schools sports.
Last week, Matthew said the ministry will not allowed school competitions in any sport despite a return to competitive cricket at the national level as they seek to mitigate against the possible spread of Covid-19 in schools.
Joseph, coach at the Antigua Grammar School (AGS), is not confident that all the necessary measures could be put in place to protect students.
“In school sports we don’t know how we are going to control or prevent the spread of the virus or if we have all of the necessary things in place, so I think the best thing is happening now where you are trying to prevent it in the schools by eliminating what you need to eliminate until the time is right.
“It is just up to the student or the players now to get a good foundation in the school,” he said.
The former opening batsman, who represented the West Indies senior men’s team in five Tests and 13 ODI matches from 2000 to 2005, believes that with no age-group competitions on the horizon, students should be allowed to concentrate on the academics.
“The emphasis now is the kids getting the education and my thing is that now they have the opportunity as sportsmen and women, we should make sure they focus on their school work because there is no age-group cricket or sports going on in the world or in our part of the world in terms of an under-15 or under-19 on a regional or international scene so to speak, so now is a time I think they can focus on their school work that when the opportunity comes around again they will be firm in their school work,” he said.
Joseph, who also played for Leeward Islands, said he continues to work with some youth players at the community level.
“I coach at Antigua Grammar School but most of our players from over here they attend the Clare Hall Secondary School so I have access to them out here [in New Winthorpes] on the field in the afternoons so in the community I am doing what I need to do with the same players or students so when they go back out they will be prepared.
“We still have our little football, we have a women’s programme that we started just before Christmas and we have our football in the senior team programme and in the cricket so we have our programmes going on still over here,” he said.
Competitions, at both the national and school levels, were halted in March 2020 after the country recorded its first case of the potentially deadly virus.