By Neto Baptiste
Although the issue of overcrowded football fields and basketball courts is one for the Royal Police Force of Antigua and Barbuda to handle, Minister of Sports Daryll Matthew is calling on residents to exercise some personal responsibility when engaging in social recreation.
“You know I kick-around sometimes, and if I go to Golden Grove on a Thursday night where they play a little 40 and over knock-around and I drive into field and l see in there look full. I just turn around and I am gone or I might tell the guys that look, this is too many people and they have complied largely,” he said.
“It is for all of us to understand and accept that it is not the government trying to inconvenience you or to not make you exercise or have fun, but it is something that we have to do to protect each other; we must have that herd mentality where we protect everyone in the herd,” he added.
Speaking on the Good Morning Jojo Sports Show, Matthew was responding to questions regarding the rationale of allowing individuals to engage in sports at a social level while restricting competitions.
Matthew said the move was in effort to provide the populous with an opportunity to engage in some form of physical activity.
“There are some persons who believe that it is easier to manage a formal competition or let’s say a formal football game between two teams where certain protocols could be put in place as opposed to the recreational play of football on a field at nights or whenever, but there are to be no gatherings of more than 25 persons and that’s the first thing,” he said.
“I know the police, they have, on occasions, where they have observed these things or reports are made, they have gone and broken up the gatherings or the games and so on, and so it is really an enforcement issue and I know the police are trying their best,” the sports minister added.
There have been several reports of packed fields and courts across the island as residents flock to venues in hopes of breaking a sweat.
In many cases, the “pick-up” games exceed the stipulated 25 or more individuals and usually do not meet other mandated protocols like hand-washing stations and adequate temperature checks.