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Bishop’s 50th – A rich sporting legacy: The foundations

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The holding of last week’s Inter-Secondary Schools Sports has given me the opportunity to make good on a pledge that I had made at the beginning of this year – to pay tribute to the rich sporting legacy of the Bishop’s College Kingstown (BCK). That school is this year celebrating its Golden Jubilee, having come into operation in 1964 and as a tribute, I wish to focus on the foundations of that legacy, the early years of Bishop’s in sports.{{more}}

The Inter-Schools Sports is a good way to start. In its early years, the disparity between the traditional “Big Two,” the Grammar School and Girls ‘High School, and the other schools was so obvious that it was taken for granted that these two would come out champions in the male and female divisions respectively. Those schools had a long headstart in hosting their own sporting competitions, including track and field. Besides, there was an enormous gap in terms of resources and facilities between these two and the rest of the other secondary schools. That pertained also in respect of human resources, the other schools having much smaller pools of talent to draw on and lacking the requisite personnel to help in training and preparation.

In spite of this, by its fifth year of existence, the BCK started to put up a challenge. Led by a small group of talented athletes, some of whom, like Chesley Lawrence and the late Winston ‘PP’ Wilson, were to make their mark at the national level, and others like Delano Douglas of Layou, competition began to be offered to the ‘Big Two’. This was the start of the road which led to the modern-day triumphs of schools like Thomas Saunders, St Joseph Convent etc.

Even more formidable was Bishop’s challenge in the field of netball, a field in which the BCK was to excel. There was very good reason for this success, for at Bishop’s there was a teacher, the late Marlene Arthur, herself an outstanding national player, coach and administrator. She it was who was instrumental in placing the BCK netball tradition on a solid foundation. The results were seen not only in Bishop’s success at school level, but the school began turning out a long line of national players that has persisted over the years.

Our country still owes a huge sporting debt to the Foster sisters, who have made a tremendous contribution to netball, starting with the BCK, and to sports in general. Then there were the Cambridge sisters, Jacqueline Browne-King, who has made her name in the nursing profession, Bronte Lewis (nee De Roche), Silma Millington, Rucina Roberts, Beverley Warren (Prescott) of blessed memory, who also excelled in table tennis nationally, Petra Walrond-Pompey, well-known in carnival circles too, and Suzette Kirton of the sporting Kirton family, leaders in placing the BCK banner at the top of the flagpole quite early. They left a legacy and mantle that many outstanding successors took up proudly through Bishop’s Mitres and stars like the Young sisters.

CRICKET AND FOOTBALL TOO

The BCK sportsmen were not slackers either. From very early the school began producing excellent cricketers, some of whom were to make their mark not only in secondary school competitions, but go on to the national level as well and, as in the case of Stanley ‘Gunny’ Hinds and Douglas ‘Poke-up’ Haynes, on the regional first-class field too. Bishop’s made a historic schoolboy tour to St Lucia as far back as 1968, at a time when Windward Islands’ sporting competitions were restricted to the Grammar School boys only. That ambition, that vision, was to pay dividends and it is to the school’s honour and glory that five of the national youth team which played against the touring Australian youths in 1970 came from the BCK – Kensley ‘Kens’ Dougan, ‘Gunny’ Hinds, ‘Poke-up’ Haynes, Douglas Woodward, a fine left-handed all-rounder who also wore national colours, and the left-arm seamer Henry John. Then there was Stanley ‘Nobby’ Stephens, a fine wicketkeeper-batsman.

Finally, the BCK football tradition was handed down with undoubtedly the most outstanding being former national striker, now leading coach Seymour ‘Rollit’ Walrond, older brother of the netballer, Petra. He, along with the aforementioned ‘Gunny’ Hinds, Creswell ‘Bobel’ Burke and Winston ‘Budge’ Lewis, both of whom have since passed, Esmond Weekes of Sion Hill and Grantley Bramble of Barrouallie, all helped to put Bishop’s football on a solid foundation.

There were many others, of course, and I apologize sincerely for any omissions, all of whom have contributed to the Bishop’s sporting legend.

Comments to: renwickrose0@gmail.com

Renwick Rose is a community activist and social commentator.

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