Sportlight, Sports

Stop Sports Violence!

Image of Anthony De Beauville
Anthony De Beauville

A football match was suspended last Sunday afternoon at the Marchand Grounds after an object was thrown at the assistant referee hitting him in the process: It happened in the 82nd minute of play in the encounter between Bagatelle and B1 FC, at the time of the unfortunate incident Bagatelle was leading 3 – 0.

An inquiry was scheduled for Tuesday, but up going to press time there was no final word coming from the organizers of the Marchand Football League.

On Saturday in Soufriere in a Football Association Inter District Under – 15 encounter between Gros Islet and home team Soufriere, the players gave it their all throughout the match and in the process some tempers flared leaving the referee with no choice but to issue a red card to two of the players. The on field incident did not stop there. When the Gros Islet coaster was leaving the town a liquid substance was thrown into the while hitting one of the players in the eye. Three unidentified young men fled the scene in full view of members of the Special Reserve Unit.

A report was made to the Soufriere Police Station about the incident. Meanwhile, President of the Gros Islet Football League Shayne Paul who is also a police officer accompanied the young footballer who was attacked to the police station to report the incident and has promised to lodge a formal complaint with the St. Lucia Football Association.

Last month in Vieux Fort, the finals of the Dr. Kenny Anthony sponsored football Cup between Vieux Fort South against Vieux Fort North, was marred by a violent and vicious bottle throwing incident that lasted well over five minutes as fans had to seek shelter on the playing field.

The night was supposed to be one of celebration as the Phillip Marcellin Grounds was re commissioned following renovation and the installation of lights. To date no one has been arrested in that incident.

In January, two brothers were stabbed and subsequently admitted to the St. Jude Hospital following a brawl at a football final between El Ninos and Survivals at the Micoud Playing Field. In that incident three persons were arrested.

What has taken place these past few weeks is disturbing. One may argue these local incidents are nothing compared to what one would see on the television in other parts of the globe, but as a third world country like ours where everybody knows everybody I was hoping never to see anything like it

The question is; are we going back to the days when certain teams could not travel to a particular district in St. Lucia to play sports or is it because a handful of spectators cannot accept the final decision by the officials, cannot control themselves after having a few beverages or want to choose a sporting activity to settle their differences?

With so much happening around us nowadays we all have choices to either stay home and watch cartoons on television or come out and support the efforts of our young and aspiring sportsmen and sportswomen as they look to excel in their respective sporting disciplines. With a dwindling economy and a number of businesses now keeping a close eye on their finances in terms of sponsoring sporting events, you have a pocket of selfish individuals creating mischief; that says a lot for sports in St. Lucia and will shy away a potential sponsor.

It’s a good thing to have the police at sporting events, but should we always have to be policed? I believe as a people we are mature enough to behave in a manner that is responsible and acceptable wherever we go.

National Sports Associations, including the various Youth and Sports Councils and organizers of sporting events must decide the next step whether to ban bottled drinks (breakable), review security measures to prevent fans from going onto the field of play and set policies on bottled drinks in the wake of violent fan behaviour at games. This cannot go on any longer.

From all indications the sport of football in St.Lucia is on the rise again. The Under -17 football team created history, when they qualified for the final round of the CONCACAF tournament in Honduras missing out on a World Cup bid in Chile. They played the power houses like Costa Rica, Mexico Canada and Haiti. We are going places, but do with have to dilute our move forward with senseless violence?

At last month’s national sports awards eight national teams were recognized by the Ministry of Youth Development and Sport for their outstanding performances for 2014, it was St. Lucia’s best outing since 1987. Should we allow that once in a life time achievement to go in thin air? It is time to stop the stupidity; let us all love our country of birth in the manner she ought to be loved and enjoy the various sporting events incident free.

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