Sports versus Covid -19: Local Rugby and Basketball Presidents Speak Out

As the global outbreak of coronavirus rages, the VOICE continues with its series of articles looking at how the pandemic is impacting not only the individual sportsmen and sportswomen, but also the various local sporting organizations.

Earlier this week we spoke to Roger Butcher, President of Saint Lucia Rugby Football Union (SLRFU) and Leslie Collymore, President of the Saint Lucia Basketball Federation (SLBF) about the setbacks left in the wake of Covid- 19 and how much SLRFU and SLBF can salvage before the season is over.

“The SLRFU has stopped all of our games because of the current situation, but we do have a developmental programme going on,” said Roger Butcher. “We have a number of individuals who are doing the World Rugby courses Online as we look to secure at least four Level ll qualified coaches.”

On the pitch, the one off game between Saint Lucia and Diamante from Martinique is in the balance.

Roger said, “We have no idea when the Martiniquans will come over the Martiniquans have their own problems with Covid -19.  We have to look very closely at what protocols we would have to establish. World Rugby has given us guidelines on recommencing the game based on Covid-19. Essentially, we have to check everybody physically and they also have to answer a questionnaire.”

Image: (L-R) Roger Butcher (President – SLRFU); Leslie Collymore (President – SLBF). (Photo: Anthony De Beauville)
(L-R) Roger Butcher (President – SLRFU); Leslie Collymore (President – SLBF). (Photo: Anthony De Beauville)

On the women’s front: “Everything is on a go slow. Everyone, women included, has been given an exercise task to remain fit by our Technical Director, Wayne Pantor, so when we do re-commence training, we don’t have to start from zero.”

For the remainder of the 2020 calendar of activities he said: “In terms of local tournaments for the rest of 2020, we are just waiting for the lifting of the ban on social distancing, as you know Rugby is a contact sport, and then we will try to see what possible domestic tournament we can have.”

Another area of interest, the SLRFU AGM. According to Roger, when the ban is lifted, they will have to hold their AGM to elect a new executive.

In terms of the date and whether he will run for the top post again, Roger said, “No date has been set for the AGM, but if everything goes as planned it may take place in June, Covid -19 dependent. If I am nominated, I would seriously consider going for reelection/ another term.”

Coping with the loss of a season: “It’s a big loss for SLRFU in terms of games, but not a total loss when it comes to personal development. Our members are supposed to be going through the online courses. World Rugby has provided the necessary information on the law of the game so they can certify themselves.”

Maintaining a level of fitness: “Members are supposed to be doing their individual training. Individual training does not only extend to our senior males and females, but also our Under 19s who are in close contact with our technical director who has given them programmes while they are at home,” noted Roger.

Also getting in the mix was Leslie Collymore, President of the Saint Lucia Basketball Federation (SLBF). He noted: “Everyone is aware that the Covid-19 crisis has seriously disrupted many planned activities to date and we are now looking at possible rescheduling of events for later this year or even to 2021. The SLBF will prepare for reschedules or modifications to some of our activities as we await the all clear from the relevant authorities.”

Collymore made mention of the following events:

“National tryouts/training sessions are still postponed until further notice. The SLBF will send out correspondence on the protocols to be put in place during Phase 3 of the country’s protocols and measures for dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic.”

In recognition of the upcoming Olympic Week, June 21st – 28th, 2020, along with the Saint Lucia Olympic Committee (SLOC) Inc we will look to celebrate the week using all available means at our disposal.”

The CCCP course which was scheduled for the month of March 2020 commenced on Monday 18th May and will now be conducted via the Zoom platform.”

According to Collymore, “The 2020 FIBA Level One coaching clinic course is still a priority and the SLBF has made the submissions required to our National Olympic Committee (NOC) and International Federation. Due to the current climate, we are at a standstill and awaiting definitive information on whether this will be facilitated in 2020 or in early 2021.”

In terms of overseas engagements, the SLBF Chief said, “We were slated to compete in three regional tournaments this year. These included the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Under 17 championships in Dominica; Caribbean Basketball Championships (senior male); and the Creole Championships (senior male) in Guadeloupe. All of these were postponed due to the Pandemic.”

He added, “On the local scene, the Dewars 8 invitational 3×3 had to be postponed as well as our National League. We are anticipating hosting the Commercial League by virtue of it being scheduled for later on in the year.”

The SLBF Chief made a special appeal to all clubs/teams to encourage their players to stay active.

Anthony De Beauville is The VOICE Publishing Company’s multi-award winning sports journalist. He works closely with a number of sports federations including the Department of Youth Development and Sports, the Saint Lucia Olympic Committee and other organizations.

He covers and contributes articles highlighting the areas of international, regional, national, community based clubs and schools sporting activities. There is never an off day as he stays busy... Read full bio...

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