Sports unit cautious with resumption of school sports

The Ministry of Education and Technical and Vocational Training’s Sports Unit is eager to get school sports back underway. However, the unit is cautious as the safety of the student-athletes is paramount. Schools in the country are currently on a virtual platform.

Senior sports officer in the unit Rupert Gardiner said that they will suggest to the minister and director that non-contact sports be allowed, once face-to-face instructions resume.

“We are going to advise the minister to have golf, tennis, swimming and track and field,” Gardiner said. “These are non-contact sports. We feel safe with these sports. All of the other sports are contact sports. We feel that the Competent Authority will not approve contact sports with school kids at this time.”

In other words, sports such as basketball, soccer, baseball, softball and volleyball are not on the immediate itinerary to resume if and when the approval to resume school sports is given.

Gardiner said that the pandemic has affected school sports around the country, and also the selection of junior national teams in contact sports.

“It has affected high school sports and the kids, tremendously, not only in New Providence but the Family Islands and Grand Bahama as well,” Gardiner said. “It would not be hard for those four non-contact sports because, when you look at it, there is going to be CARIFTA track and field in Kingston, Jamaica, this year, and CARIFTA swimming in Barbados, and regional junior tennis and golf championships. Those sports won’t be affected but the other sports will be.”

Gardiner reiterated that resuming school sports at this time has to be agreed by the minister and director and supported by the Ministry of Health and Wellness.

The sports unit will meet with Government Secondary Schools Sports Association (GSSSA), the Bahamas Association of Independent Secondary Schools (BAISS) and the other school sports associations after meeting with health authorities.

Gardiner also mentioned that the ministry is working on ensuring that money owed to the remaining GSSSA coaches and officials for services rendered are paid in short order.

The sports unit was able to team up with the Bahamas Golf Federation (BGF) to put on the first Bahamas Interschool Golf Championships in March 2021. The tournament was well received as homeschooled Jaden Ward won the senior boys division, Queen’s College’s Rahn Miller won the junior boys division, St. John’s College’s Tyesha Tynes won the senior girls, and Queen’s College’s Chemari Pratt won the junior girls division.

They are looking to put on a second tournament this March/April pending approval from the Ministry of Education and health authorities.

In 2020, the sports unit, along with the Bahamas Chess Federation (BCF), were able to field a team to play virtually in the International School Sports 

Federation’s (ISF) World Schools Championship Online Chess Tournament.

The Ministry of Education and Technical and Vocational Training, under the guidance of health authorities, will make a decision within a week’s time to determine if schools will go face to face or if they will continue with the virtual platform.