Is sports in the mix?
As St Vincent and the Grenadines continues to grapple with its many challenges, namely the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and the La Soufriere volcano eruptions, sports has become one of the major casualties.
As it relates to the latter, which has led to a redistribution of the population from the north eastern and north western belts of the mainland to other locales; the displacement has resulted in a change in the social construct of the country as a whole.
But as the authorities endeavour to provide and tend to the needs of the displaced section of the population with the best possible physical accommodation, daily sustenance, psycho–social support, education, medical provisions, spiritual shoring up and the likes, it seems that not much attention was paid to the aspect of sports.
Concentration of food, entertainment and general comfort, have consumed the attention of those who are in charge of the temporary shelters.
To be fair though to those who have the responsibilities of managing these shelters, engaging the displaced persons in sports, may be an oversight, rather than a deliberate omission from the list of priority areas.
This is not to say that some of the shelters are not hosting activities which would ensure and promote physical engagements and sports.
Thanks to the foresight of some of the volunteers (namely teachers), such undertakings are taking place.
The initiatives of these persons are helped, as within some of the shelters are many sportsmen and women, and they have spurred organised sporting activities among the evacuees.
It is evident that the Division of Physical Education and Sports’ personnel have gone to some of these shelters and conducted fun activities, physical drills and exercises.
However, this column would love to see a more structured approach towards sports among persons who are residing in these shelters strewn across the country.
And, having a more uniformed and objective programme would not pose many obstacles in terms of facilities, as most of the shelters are hedged by hard courts or playing fields.
The ball is in the court of the various national sporting associations which can step in and pay some attention to their constituents, some of whom are temporary residents at these shelters, then broaden their programme to include all who are willing.
They should not pass up this opportunity for their coaches and players to be the lead instructors and organisers in the process.
Likewise, teams and clubs can capitalize on the situation and scout for possible talent and assist in their recruitment drive.
Whatever route is taken, the aim, as being proffered by this column, is for sports to be part and parcel of the daily operations of the various shelters, until some level of normalcy is restored.
It must be reiterated here that whatever activities are done, they must have a structured approach, as the impression at this time, is that although there are some activities, it appears as just a way of passing time.
But going past the pandemic and the volcano’s spill-offs and their effects on the sporting landscape of St Vincent and the Grenadines, one has to ponder what position will sports have in the recovery process.
This is critical, as no end is in sight for either of our calamities, but it is imperative that we begin to look ahead and be proactive.
The same way the response to housing, tourism, food security, agriculture, health care, economics and mitigation against future disasters and other things are being framed and mapped out, the same can be done in relation to plans for sports, post La Soufriere, especially.
What are some of the plans that are hatched should some significant redistribution of the population take place? Obviously, there would be some readjustment to the demographics, shifts in resources and the need for reconfiguration of sporting facilities, as well as other demands on implements for recreation.
Therefore, in all the planning, finance sourcing, decision-making pertaining to resource distribution and the sorts, considerations must be given to sports and its value to the recovery process.
Planners and policy-makers have to embrace that sports is integral in identity, social cohesion and a cog in national development.