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How I miss those days

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Taking a step back in time, I can’t help but reflect with a bit of sadness how I miss the days when sporting events were the sources of gratification, provided community gelling and formed integral forms of social development.{{more}}

Then, Sports was a national issue of fun first of all, not a national disgrace, nor debates of mismanagement, misappropriation of funds nor nepotism.

I can only reminisce on the times at schools sports, when fun and friendly rivalry were all we looked forward to. We paid little attention to fashion; there weren’t police to frisk us, nor outbreaks of violence.

Everyone waited with baited breath for the Netball clash between the Bishop’s College and the Girls’ High School or the football square offs involving the St. Vincent Grammar School, Bishop’s College and St. Martin’s. Stars were born out of these competitions, and young sportsmen and women were household names, respected by all, and they, too, returned in kind.

I miss what was then the Discovery Day Road Relay, held 22nd January, when it seemed like everything else in the country stopped for about one hour and a half. Drawn mainly from communities, there was no shortage of moral support for the teams. What is now known as the Sion Hill Intersection was the hub of activity, as it was the final change over of the six legged relay that started at Argyle, and it was race off to the finish line at the Grammar School Playing Field.

My journeys to the local football “Mecca”, the Victoria Park, was a weekly reward for being a good boy; the park was filled to capacity for a football match with the likes of Avenues, Superstars ,Sion Hill, Roseans, Pastures, Notre Dames or Honveds in action. Then Victoria Park was not as it is today. The galvanised fencing, and the distinct ridge in the middle of the park did not deter us from producing top class footballers and cricketers. A little meant a lot, then.

Players were banned from the park to their homes, as a reward for not playing well, but returned the next match as a top class performer for fear of a repeat of such humiliation.

There was a passion for the sport and for the teams which were basically community based; they formed the pride and joy and offered a sense of belonging. As a child, getting a snow cone or an “aerated” to quench your thirst was a luxury at these events, albeit secondary, as being at the venue far outweighed what your parents could have offered. Today, youngsters, and I am speaking of pre-teens, are seen imbibing alcoholic beverages oblivious to the presence of adults, and in some cases, are in the company of their parents, who, obviously, are the providers.

As young boys we would venture out to nearby villages to oppose our peers in a game of softball cricket. In those days every conceivable piece of land that was flat and unoccupied was converted into a playing area, obviously with no objection from the owners.

The adults welcomed these events, and were the stand by adjudicators, which ensured fair play and taught the virtues of honesty.

It was a custom to make trips to the rural areas for some sporting activity. These “trips” were always welcomed by the visitors and hosts. And, coming from the urban area, returning to your home after the event, meant extra baggage , as you were certain to be overwhelmed by packages of fruits, vegetables or ground provisions. We were killed with kindness.

Here lasting family friendships were forged and have since trickled down to other generations.

Also, it was common for Domino teams to journey from community to community engaging each other in fierce rivalry, of course with plenty of food and liquid refreshments provided by the hosts, with the reciprocal courtesies extended in the return match. The same held for the table game of Pedro. Not now, as we did not have a prevalence of posses, crews and cliques as we have today. Those were the days when love used to reign.

Can you tell when was the last time you heard of a cricket match between married men and bachelors?

Or similarly, when have the women folk challenged their counterparts in a game of Rounders? Not recently.

Today, these events are few and far between, if they exist at all. Community spiritedness has become a thing of the past; a certain missing link in our social development. How sad!!

These activities engendered community spirit, fostered discipline; they were the basis for national players to come to the fore, and provided rich, clean, healthy entertainment to all. Maybe if this was sustained, then initiatives such as Pan Against Crime would have never surfaced.

Getting back to the days of old is virtually impossible, as we have failed to build on past achievements. We have thrown out the baby with the bath water and despite the trappings, regulations and written policies, we are slipping in every sporting sphere.

However, we can still mix the old with the new as we try to recover much lost ground.

Back to the communities we must go, if we are to have any sense of achievement in sports.

And there are signs of revival in this area, as road Cricket is becoming more popular, despite the increase in housing and vehicular traffic. Too, it is heartening to see some workers make it a daily ritual of a game of Cricket during their lunch hour. A good sign, as this helps to relieve tension on the job as camaraderie is encouraged.

What is not encouraged is the executive body of the SVGFF’s continued silence on the salary of Technical Director Stewart John Hall, and the presence of the Mound at the Sion Hill Playing Field.

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