By Neto Baptiste
The Covid-19 pandemic has significantly impacted the lives of many, both from a professional and social perspective, and sports and athletes have certainly not been exempted from its wrath over the past 15 months.
Although some sporting activities like cycling, golf, track & field and even cricket have seen some form of competitive play over the past six months, there has been no movement at the school level and some principals believe that it is time for a return to action.
One such principal is Dr Colin Greene of the Princess Margaret School (PMS). The well-known sports enthusiast believes that his school has been one of the more severely impacted given that sports is often at the center of many fundraising activities.
“Sports at Princess Margaret School is what we call the [engine]; everything surrounds sports so everything is blended, so it’s not just about sports, and that’s a term we use. So if the students are going to get entertainment, then you have to win a championship; so they know it is interconnected,” he said.
“Our performers look forward to performing at our launch for sports, and our celebratory action, whether it is the sports awards or whatever, it’s all tied in our fundraising activities, because we have long realized that corporate Antigua is not interested in sponsoring any sports; it’s just a lot of chat. So we have had a model where the biggest sponsor of Princess Margaret School sports is Princess Margaret School,” he added.
PMS has captured numerous track & field titles over the past 10 years and has also fared well in other sports like football and basketball.
Principal of the Ottos Comprehensive School (OCS), Foster Roberts, echoed Greene’s sentiments, adding that his senior footballers, who won the schools competition in 2019, were denied an opportunity to defend their title and are set to leave the institution this year.
“They are really saddened that they are not able to have any sporting events to represent their schools because they are leaving this year, and so having won the championship in 2019 they haven’t played any football for their school, and although they are leaving as champions anyway, they wanted to show the rest of Antigua and Barbuda that what happened in 2019 wasn’t a fluke, but they didn’t get the opportunity to do so,” he said.
“There is still the under-14 team that is there and they continue to work in the communities but we don’t do any sports at the school. We are now having cricket [West Indies Women vs. Pakistan Women] being played here in Antigua but our local people can’t get to play,” Roberts added.
Meanwhile, principal of the TN Kirnon Primary School and sports commentator, Denmore Roberts, said that his students have been affected in a similar way, but that he has put measures in place to ensure they receive adequate yard time.
“I insisted that my PE teachers still function. I said that we have a big field, we can put the cones at the required distance and give the children a little bit of PE, so our children still went for PE or for an exercise break. They went in smaller numbers because all of our classes were down to about 15 per class so they went in groups of 15 and they utilised the field because it is important that the children still have an outlet,” he said.
“What used to happen at TN Kirnon where I am now, Miss Sandy use to play tennis with them every break and at lunch break. She put up the nets and they played tennis and enjoyed themselves but that has not happened since last year. We have a basketball rim in the yard and I’ve had to lock away all the balls,” he added.
In his last interview on the subject, sports and education minister Daryll Matthew said the immediate focus remains education and that it was still not a certainty as to when schools sports would return.