It’s impossible to know what demand for sports will look like at a later stage or on the other side of the COVID-19 pandemic. But at one level, sports enthusiasts will be eager for the various sporting disciplines to return at the soonest.
With the Curfew (12.00 midnight to 5.00 a.m.) now completely lifted as of yesterday (Friday 10th July 2020) sports fans can now breathe a sigh of relief after months of being in the wilderness.
The latest news coming from the Saint Lucia Prime Minister, Allen Chastanet, earlier this week when he addressed a number of issues on the National Television Network (NTN) was that “they, (the government) will be allowing tournament: sporting events and contact sports with protocols, for spectators attending. I believe the number of people attending would be around 200; the maximum number of persons regardless of how large the facility is and even those 200 persons that are participating would be social distancing”.
The Prime Minister added, “We are now seeing the Premiere League Football has started in the United Kingdom under similar conditions”.
With this latest development, the VOICE spoke to the President of the Saint Lucia Football Association (SLFA), Lyndon Cooper on his association’s readiness going forward.
According to Cooper, “The SLFA has decided to take it one step at a time”.
In terms of being excited about the news coming from the CMO on Monday evening, Cooper said, “Contact sport was always on the list to commence, it was when, not if”.
He added, “Between the end of August and the start of September players will be engaged in the following tournaments: Under 11, 13 and 17 male; Under 13 girls and District senior female.”
The VOICE also made contact with the following national sports association presidents and CEO’s, and this is what they had to say.
President of the Saint Lucia Basketball Federation, Leslie Collymore said, “We were not aware that decision was coming so suddenly as we had a meeting scheduled for next week with the Ministry of Youth Development and Sports, but naturally we are elated by the announcement”.
According to Collymore, “We actually took the initiative and were set to present our four-phased approach to reopen the sport with the 3×3 tournament. As it pertains to our major leagues, we will have to take a look at sponsorship and timing. We do have an Under 17 and Skills Challenge scheduled for mid-August”.
President of the Saint Lucia Rugby Football Union (SLFRN) Roger Butcher said, “Pertaining to the resumption of sports, we are in a new era so this is a test period to see how sports could coexist in the Covid -19 period. It’s a good initiative once the protocols are adhered to”.
Training wise: We have been training in small groups since May. Individuals have been keeping physically fit even through the lockdown period. Our Technical Director has been giving players exercise programmes online”.
He continued, “Pertaining to the resumption of Rugby, the new executive has to generate a calendar of events. We will most probably start by the tag- rugby, abiding by the Covid-19 protocols set down by the CMO and World Rugby”.
Meanwhile, Roger was retained as president of the SLRFU when that association held its Annual General Meeting last weekend. Other members of the executive include: Vice President – Mario Chicot; Treasurer – Germa Alfred – Inglis; the post of Secretary and Public Relations Officer will be filled at a special meeting in two weeks’ time.
Saint Lucia Premier League (SPL T20)
Hasan Eristhee, CEO Saint Lucia Premier League (SPL20) said, “Opening up for sports still does not even make us have a clearer picture. The situation is dependent on so many factors most of all is the open window, and are the sponsors and owners willing to play without players who will be in the Caribbean Premier League (CPL); then you have the Cricket West Indies Regional tournament, if it still takes place in November”.
He also said, “Keeping fingers crossed, we are still in a waiting game situation, plus feedback from partners”.
President of the Saint Lucia Aquatics Federation (SLAF) Eddie Hazel noted: “The news is welcome; we will make a decision as it pertains to the Organization of Eastern States (OECS) Championship at the end of August”.
In terms of a local championship taking place at the RHCH, Hazell said, “SLAF will be heading into discussion with the clubs on that matter; it might be sooner than later”.
President of the Saint Lucia National Netball Association (SLNNA) Rufina Paul said, “We all will need to act responsibly, there will be challenges, no doubt adapting to the new normal”.
Getting back on centre court: Rufina said, “First step is to dialogue with players and officials regarding the protocols”.
Futsal/ Onetime Entertainment
Lionel John, CEO TimeOut Entertainment said, “I think we have handled the Covid -19 situation so proficiently, it is indeed a good idea to recommence sporting activities given the players and fans in the country were eagerly anticipating some sort of organized sports”.
“From the players and fans, I believe we will see an overflow of support; however, the threat of a new wave will hover over our heads. If indeed there is a new wave, how does this affect the activities that were already in motion if the country reverts to a lockdown phase? Also, companies that have been severely affected by Covid -19 may not be able to support and participate”.
According to Lionel, “The protocols will also make it more expensive and more tasking for the event to be a success. Two hundred spectators are just not sufficient to create an impact for some sports or allow for financial returns. It is kind of tough, but love of sports may prevail”.
In terms of staging a tournament, Lionel said, “We are still working out what we can do given the circumstances”.
Meanwhile, efforts to reach the President of the Saint Lucia Athletics Association (SLAA), Cornelius Breen for an update as to whether the National Individual Track and Field Championship will take place in August and as well as to find out the status of events on the SLAA calendar for the final quarter of 2020, proved futile.