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Good Friday musings

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The scheduling of the SVG-T&T Football World Cup qualifying game and the reaction of some people has caused me to reflect on how ‘Good Friday’ used to be observed not too long ago.

There has, of course, been a radical change in our observance of that day. Do we remember that it was almost impossible to hear Caribbean songs and music on radio stations on that day? It is not that the day was set aside for religious music, for songs from elsewhere were played. Clearly our songs and music were considered demonish. A colonial hangover, I guess!{{more}} There were certain myths and traditions associated with ‘Good Friday’. As children, we were warned not to go to the sea. There were strict unwritten rules on what should be eaten, and in fact done on that day. Hot Cross buns were a must and salted mackerel and herring would replace meat. Christians, so-called, who would not cross the church doors for the rest of the year, were certain to make a grand appearance on ‘Good Friday’, decked off in their best.

My early experience as a child attending a three-hour service had a serious impact on me. I thought then it was cruel and was punishment for my sins, although as a young boy I am not sure what sins I would have committed. From since then, going to church on Good Friday has not been my thing. It was an extremely boring day for me. Perhaps it was meant to be so and to force all of us to reflect and recognize the significance of the day. Today, it is a different kettle of fish. Although it has remained a quiet day, some of the myths and traditions have disappeared or are disappearing and it is becoming just another day.

But to many, it remains a sacred day. One understands the reaction of some people to the holding a football game on that day, but there is a lot of hypocrisy involved, for I am sure that many who were critical of this and decided not to attend the game, did not cross the portals of any church. Understandably, ours is a Christian society and Christianity impacts on the lives of all of us, since our values, rules and laws are grounded in Christian teachings. Moreover, ‘Good Friday’ and Easter are special days, the crucifixion and resurrection being central to the Christian faith and its teachings. Those accustomed to make their annual ‘trek’ to church would have felt reluctant to surrender that rare occasion to look at a football match!

It is unfortunate that the game had to be played on Good Friday. It seemed to have affected the turnout at the game. The crowd in attendance included quite a number of Trinidadians, many of them here for the annual get-together of regional Customs personnel. Obviously the Football Federation had no control over this and it is one of the realities of interfacing in the global community. Although Christianity is the world’s largest religion, due consideration has to be given to non-Christian societies and to those that are not religious at all. It is certainly not possible at this level to arrange schedules that will suit everyone. So, we have to accept this. In any event, we are a minor entity.

About the football game! Local fans would have left Arnos Vale extremely downhearted and angry, having had to experience a game that we should have won, or at worse, drawn. We have to realize, however, that when we begin to function at this level we have to lift our game to a different standard. Actually, as I write, I am getting the results of the return game in Trinidad and I am not surprised at all. What seems to be in short supply are the strategies to be applied and the need to study the opposing team and its players. So, at this level, skills, although critically important, are not the end all. Reading the play and making adjustments to the conditions of the ground and style of the opponents are essential. We have a lot more work to do in this area. Our players demonstrated a lot of potential, but need now to be taken to a different level. We had in that first game allowed the Trinidadian forwards too much time and space to organize their play and get their men into positions and suffered because of this.

One of the sad things that occurred on that day was the theft of the belongings of one of our outstanding overseas players, Oalex Anderson of Barrouallie. According to a post on Facebook, his wallet, bank cards and a gold chain were stolen. I am not sure about the circumstances surrounding this; were the items left in the dressing room? Was there security in place? Stealing, of course, is a heinous matter, but to steal the belongings of someone who is representing his country is a despicable deed. We are always

quick to say that this happens elsewhere, but that is not the answer. The number of burglaries taking place point to a situation that is getting completely out of control or perhaps is already so! There is just no respect for people’s property and rights. The irony, of course, is that it happened on ‘Good Friday’.

Dr Adrian Fraser is a social commentator and historian.

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