When will the games begin again? That is the question being asked by all and sundry. The truth is COVID-19 will still be a nuisance in the first half of 2021, if not for the entire year.
There are 25 National Sports Federations (NSF) under the Saint Lucia Olympic Committee (SLOC) Inc banner, some of which host no more than five national championships in any given year; the most active ones are now keeping a close eye on the recent development pertaining to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Ministry of Health, through its Chief medical Officer, Dr. Sharon Belmar – George has not given the all clear and recommends there be no organized sports activities for now.
As customary, the month of January through to March is the peek of the track and field season. It’s a time where activities are organized by the Saint Lucia Athletics Association (SLAA) for its members in preparation for the annual Independence Games; the National Junior Track and Field Championship and the Carifta Games.
The SLAA will commence its calendar of events on Sunday, 23rd January, with a Jump Festival, a number of athletes will compete in the following events: Pole Vault; High Jump; Triple Jump and Long Jump. The event will take place at the George Odlum Stadium (GOS)/ St.Jude Hospital.
This reporter spoke to the SLAA Chief, Cornelius Breen on plans for the first quarter of 2021.
“The Independence Games are scheduled for Saturday 20th and Sunday 21st February at the GOS as usual, and we expect a high level of competition; in terms of the Carifta Games, the organizers, North American Central American and Caribbean Athletic Association (NACAC) are looking at a number of logistics which has to do with the Covid-19. A survey among member federations is ongoing and is open until Monday 11th January; following this a decision will be made on the games”.
Breen also said that “The CARIFTA Games is the biggest and most popular annual junior track and field championship in the region”.
According to the SLAA Chief, “NACAC members were also given the option of a later date which is June/ July or cancel and reschedule for 2022”.
It is unlikely these events will take place during the month of January through to March, as it is customary that during this time a number of primary and secondary schools normally stage their inter house sports meet; this is followed by the Ministry for Youth Development and Sports/ Ministry for Education staging of Inter Primary and Inter Secondary Schools track and field qualifiers and grand final.
The Massy United Insurance Saint Lucia Limited Under19 Schools Cricket Tournament is one of the events organized by the Ministry for Youth Development and Sports, the tournament was in its qualifying stage when the decision was taken to close all schools on the island due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
By the look of things it appears that the tournament is hanging in the balance: Saint Lucia aspiring youth cricketers may just miss out on an event which has produced a number of outstanding players in the past.
Still on school sports, one of District II most talked about event, the annual Fun Walk which normally takes place in January is off the radar as sporting activities are limited to small groups, physical engagements and non contact sporting activities; additionally, mass crowd gatherings are not allowed. Schools are rescheduled to open on Monday 11th January for the second term.
The Saint Lucia Aquatic Federation (SLAF) which walked away with the Association of the Year title at the 41st edition of the annual Sports Awards is also keeping a very close eye on the latest COVID -19 development. The SLAF executive headed by Eddie Hazell will meet with the seven presidents of the various swim clubs on island; the meeting is scheduled for Monday 11th January to discuss the way forward to include the Carifta Swim Championship in Barbados over the Easter weekend.
According to a reliable source, they are planning and hoping COVID-19 protocols improve. Meanwhile a few swimmers/individuals are in training; one and one.
Cricket wise, the Saint Lucia National Cricket Association (SLNCA) is currently finalizing its 2021 calendar. According to President, Carol Henry, “The 2020 National 2-Day Inter District senior men’s tournament will not be continued”.
Last year’s youth cricketer, Ackeem Auguste was up and running scoring three consecutive centuries.
With all this said, as to the athletes, one can only encourage them to remain focused and motivated and if the various coaches make the much needed adjustments and ensure that their athletes are fully prepared for the 2021 season, who knows, we may well be on our way, however for that to happen all COVID -19 protocols are to be adhered to.